Canberra Airport boss pleads for borders to reopen as Qantas announces massive job cuts

Ian Bushnell 25 June 2020 14

Qantas employs 200 staff at Canberra Airport. Photo: File.

Canberra Airport boss Stephen Byron has pleaded for state borders to be reopened and the trans-Tasman bubble to be approved as hundreds of workers at Canberra Airport face uncertain futures after Qantas announced it would axe 6000 jobs and keep 15,000 staff stood down over the coming months.

Mr Byron said Qantas employed 200 staff in Canberra and the Airport would know more about their fate in coming days.

Transport Workers Union official Ben Sweaney said workers were anxious, disappointed and angry to find out via the media that they may lose their jobs.

He said the union would have a better idea of the situation after meetings in Canberra tomorrow (26 June).

”We’re eager to sit down with the company as soon as possible to see how it will affect Canberra. Certainly, aviation is crucial to the local economy,” he said.

Mr Sweaney said Qantas had rushed to cutting jobs, and with JobKeeper still active the company should have waited until next month.

”What’s actually happening is that they’re downsizing,” he said.

He believed that there should be an aviation-specific JobKeeper payment to keep the industry viable post-COVID-19 and as it recovers.

Mr Byron said it was a dark day for aviation and underlined the severity of the situation.

”Our hearts go out to Qantas and their staff. This is truly a test of survival for our industry and the very many industries and jobs that flow from it in tourism, in hotels and, in particular, the aviation support businesses,” he said.

Mr Byron warned that without the borders reopening more bad news was ahead. He criticised state premiers for acting against the advice of the Chief Medical Officer who had never advised they needed to shut out other states.

”We will see job losses in other companies throughout our industry,” he said.

”There are very many companies that support the aviation industries. There are catering companies, fuel companies, rental car companies, hotels that are so empty.

”The reason theses job losses are as high as they are is because the state borders have remained closed.”

Mr Byron said the proposed Canberra-Wellington bubble made sense because the COVID-19 risk is absolutely minimal, and with the spike in Melbourne, Victoria could be excluded from any connecting flights out of the national capital if need be.

”We don’t need to wait for Victoria to be fixed to start our bubble,” he said.

But he said the health advice was that flights could continue to Melbourne if passengers avoided the hotspots.

Mr Byron was hopeful of positive news on the bubble out of National Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

He said workers needed to return to their offices so business meetings and travel could resume.

”The bit that does concern me is business travel and the ability to fill hotels during the week because that is dependent on people returning to work in the office and having meetings interstate and hosting meetings in Canberra with people from interstate,” he said.

”That is a critical part of the recovery over the weeks and months ahead.”

But Mr Byron remained positive that the industry would bounce back.

“We’ve been cooped up and people are ready to travel,” he said. “After the year we’ve had we certainly need a holiday.”

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14 Responses to Canberra Airport boss pleads for borders to reopen as Qantas announces massive job cuts
actcyclist actcyclist 8:15 am 27 Jun 20

a load of self commercial self interest. Seriously, the reason why Australia has survived so well is because for once., just for once, our government stood up to business interests and shut the travel industry down in time.
If you let people like this guy decide, hundreds or thousands of Australians would have died.

Seriously, just leave the travel industry shut down till we have a vaccine.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:25 pm 26 Jun 20

With no certainty that there will ever be a highly effective vaccine, Canberra Airport might benefit most from developing smart (apologies for using that over-used word, but it seemed apt in this context) quarantine facilities on-site.

There’s surely all sorts of nifty things which could be added to the current fairly clunky looking (from what we see on TV) quarantine-in-hotel arrangements which would mean that it was more pleasant and less of a waste of time. Aside from government and business travellers, this might also be helpful for those who want to get Canberra’s overseas student trade running again. Could be a nice little earner.

Geoff Roberts Geoff Roberts 8:26 am 26 Jun 20

Then why are they offering $19 air fares!

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:22 am 26 Jun 20

“But Mr Byron remained positive that the industry would bounce back.”

Mr Byron must have missed the statement by Alan Joyce about the grim medium to long term expectations of the airline industry namely no international flights until at least July 2021 and then another 3 years to get back to pre-COVID 19 levels. Also, thousands of employees acked and billions of dollars worth of aircraft taken out of service with Qantas’ entire remaining fleet of B 747s to be scrapped.

    JC JC 7:18 pm 26 Jun 20

    Your comment about the 747’s is a bit melodramatic. They were to be retired this year anyway, COVID brought that forward 6 months and are not a factor moving forwards.

    Though agree with the sentiment. I do wonder about Canberra airport they way the carry on announcing routes and lobbying. It’s almost like they are confused and think they are running and airline rather than an airport.

Jason Good Jason Good 4:15 am 26 Jun 20

Well, you know, Qantas staff have to make sacrifices so Alan Joyce can continue to get his $24million a year salary!

Birchy Birchy Birchy Birchy 12:26 am 26 Jun 20

How about letting Jetstar in Mr Byron?

    Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 2:06 am 26 Jun 20

    Boyo Birch it’s been an overpriced closed market too long

Donna Evans Donna Evans 10:37 pm 25 Jun 20

Does this mean he’s going to reduce the exorbitant prices he charges to fly out of Canberra ??

    David Malcolm David Malcolm 6:37 am 26 Jun 20

    Donna Evans he's more likely to increase the cost to try and make up for lost revenue.

    Donna Evans Donna Evans 2:02 pm 26 Jun 20

    David Malcolm yes doesn’t surprise me

    Benjy Murphy Benjy Murphy 5:35 pm 26 Jun 20

    Donna Evans not a chance 😂

Guy Manton Guy Manton 7:57 pm 25 Jun 20

I think we're going to see business travel massively reduce regardless of restrictions given that pretty much every business has significantley upgraded their online meeting capability.

Guy Noble Guy Noble 6:11 pm 25 Jun 20

How about while we are covid free we get our businesses up and running get canberra open again for the people that live here before we start letting the virus back in again

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