In the past four decades, pilots were never included in job cuts made by Australian flag carrier Qantas, even if some of them joined recent strikes. However, in the latest version of the Flying Roo's cost-cutting measures that would axe 5,000 jobs spread over three years, the aviators are no longer safe.
Captains and first officers of old 767 and 747 jets would soon be retired, along with their pilots. Qantas asked the cockpit mainstays on Tuesday for applicants to the airline's voluntary redundancy programme. About 500 pilots out of a total of 2,000 aviators are assigned to the 767 and 747 aircraft. Qantas is aiming that 100-300 of the 500 apply for redundancy.
In the last few years, Qantas has more pilots than planes to fly, so it offered various solutions such as forced leave, leave without pay and the chance to fly for subsidiary Jetstar.
The 767s are slated to retire by Q1 2015 and 6 of the remaining 15 747s would have its wings clipped by the first half of 2016.
This is the first time that Qantas is offering redundancies for pilots in the air carrier's 93 years of existence, although there was one instance of compulsory redundancies over 40 years ago, disclosed Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) President Nathan Safe.
While AIPA does not have proscribed redundancy package in its deal with Qantas, Safe said the union would push for a separation package that is not a low-ball offer.
But he prefers that compulsory retirement begin from the top and not the bottom since the company's seniority system hits new hires who are the first to be declared redundant during downsizing.
The cost-cutting measures are being put in place after Qantas registered a $250 million loss during the 2nd half of 2013, while it is expected to log more losses for the first six months of 2014.