Today I flew from Melbourne, Australia to Sydney, Australia on flight 444. It was my first trip with Qantas and all I could think was, wow, if they didn’t have personal iPads streaming entertainment for every single passenger onboard the flight, perhaps they wouldn’t have to cut so many jobs. My second thought was, wow, I wonder how many iPads they have and how them keep them all charged up.
The mood at the airport and onboard the flight was noticeably different and there were news crews interviewing passengers inside the terminal. The TVs broadcast the press conferences and commentary. Every single TV was tuned to the news.
I overheard a few agents at the gate discussing the cuts and what the future might hold for them. I was told that they expect more cuts to be announced. The rumors in Melbourne are that Qantas could cut another 3,000 jobs.
In addition to the job cuts came a wage freeze. news that none of the Qantas employees I talked to seemed very happy about. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the cost of living in Australia’s major cities is outrageous. Sydney and Melbourne are in the top 5 most expensive cities in the world. The average salary for a Qantas employee is $92,000. Compare that to the $52,000 average salary of a Singapore Airlines employee and you can start to see why Qantas may not be as profitable as they’d like. (Salary averages as reported by the Australia’s Sky News on Feb 26 2014.)
Qantas provides free drinks and snacks onboard domestic flights. Today they served a cookie of some sort. The one-hour flight from Melbourne to Sydney was completely full – not an empty seat to be found. One crew member told me that’s standard for Qantas flights to Sydney, full flights are the norm.
So why is Qantas in so much trouble? If you believe the airline it’s because of Virgin Australia. They say Virgin has cut into the market and there is “an unfair playing field” because Virgin is allowed more foreign investors than Qantas. The foreign investment in Qantas is limited by the Qantas Sales Act – something Qantas is now petitioning the government to change.
It’s a shame that so many people have lost their jobs at a time when several other major companies including Toyota and Holden announced major job cuts. Hopefully the laid-off employees can go work for foreign-backed Virgin Australia.
(Image Copyright: Qantas Airlines)