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.”