Australia Qantas asks for paid pilot, crew training to replace JobKeeper

12:54  03 march  2021
12:54  03 march  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Qantas is pushing the federal government to pay for training for thousands of stood down aviation workers as a replacement lifeline when the JobKeeper wage subsidy finishes at the end of March.

About 9000 Qantas employees and 3000 at Virgin are still stood down from work as domestic flying remains at around 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels and international operations are grounded.

Virgin and unions have been pushing for an aviation-specific package to replace JobKeeper, dubbed AviationKeeper, given the impact border closures continue to have on the sector. But Qantas representatives told a Senate inquiry into the future of aviation post-COVID on Wednesday they did not believe the wage subsidy will be extended just for its industry.

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"We currently hope that there are a range of measures introduced in a very targeted way for our sector and our employees that will get us through," Qantas' head of government relations Andrew Parker told a hearing in Canberra.

"The government understands that for aviation, and particularly for international aviation, that some form of assistance is going to be vital."

Mr Parker said Qantas had proposed government fund both routine and advanced training for about 5000 stood-down pilots, cabin crew, engineers and other workers to keep them connected to the airline and enable overseas flying to resume rapidly when Australia opened its borders. Qantas, which reported a $1.08 billion half-year loss last week, expects that to happen in October at the earliest.

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Transport Workers Union federal secretary Michael Kaine said thousands of workers were waiting with "bated breath" to see what, if anything, would replace JobKeeper. But he urged future support to go directly to employees rather than via their employer, saying the original scheme had failed to prevent mass job losses.

"The solution here is to funnel money into those workers who are currently in the industry who already have the skills," Mr Kaine said.

The Australian industry has shed about 30 per cent of its workforce since the start of the pandemic, with around 8500 going from Qantas and 3000 from Virgin.

Airline ground handling and catering giant dnata's Australian CEO Hiranjan Aloysius pleaded for future government support to be shared across the whole industry, highlighting that 1500 stood down dnata workers could still not access JobKeeper because the company is ultimately owned by the Dubai government.

"Our employees are primarily Australian citizens who live here in Australia, they pay their taxes, raise their families here and support their local communities," Mr Aloysius said.

Labor senator and committee chair Glenn Sterle said the treatment of dnata workers - which included around 2000 who joined from Qantas when dnata bought its catering business two years ago - was "a national disgrace".

Trickledown tourism package supports jobs on a wing and a prayer .
The government's tourism announcement is good news for Qantas and Virgin, but not so flash for small businesses.Employment in the accommodation sector is still nearly 20% below its level this time last year — and that was already well under 2019 levels in the wake of the bushfires.

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