Australian flag carrier Qantas is laying off another 167 staff from its engineering department, the latest step in the airline’s plan to cut 5,000 positions from its workforce within three years.
The carrier said it has already cut 2,200 employees through the end of June, and expects to lay off another 1,800 by the end of June 2015. The overall target of 5,000 was announced in February, as the airline looks to trim A$2 billion ($1.9 billion) in costs over three years to stem rising losses.
Almost all work groups have been affected by the layoffs. Significant cuts to the engineering ranks had already been made through the consolidation of some heavy maintenance facilities.
The new round of 167 layoffs will include 73 licensed engineers in the line maintenance operation, 58 engineers from component maintenance services, and 36 “back office” supply chain support and administration workers.
Qantas had previously signaled that its line maintenance operation would be restructured. “The simple fact is as we are retiring our older aircraft, aligning our maintenance systems with Boeing recommendations and implementing process improvements we need fewer engineering employees,” said Lyell Strambi, who heads the Qantas domestic business.
The accelerated phase-out of Boeing 767s and 747s is reducing workload considerably, while newer types entering the fleet do not need as much maintenance, Strambi said.
The carrier said it reduced the number of forced layoffs from its line maintenance division through voluntary redundancies, job swaps and redeployments.
Qantas has been in discussions with the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) regarding staff cuts. The union said Qantas rejected “cost-neutral” proposals that would have “prevented redundancies and [given] greater flexibility to the airline.”
For example, union leaders note that engineers have, on average, more than six months of accrued leave that could have been used to offset the layoffs.
The ALAEA said it had warned Qantas if the reductions were implemented, “the airline would not have enough engineers for ongoing servicing.”