Qantas 747-400. Courtesy, QF

Qantas (QF) has confirmed to ATW that about 150 of its 2,000 pilots have taken unpaid leave after it reduced services to cut losses on unprofitable international operations (ATW Daily News, Aug. 15, 2011).

The airline has allowed pilots to take unpaid leave since the 2008 financial crisis so they can work for overseas airlines such as Emirates.

According to Bloomberg, the VP of Australian & International Pilots Assn. Richard Woodward believes the number on leave will reach 500 by 2015.

“Our young guys are voting with their feet,” Woodward said. “Because of retrenchment and downsizing, they’re going directly to our competitors, which will exacerbate our problems.”

Fair Work Australia is arbitrating a new labor contract between QF and its pilots (ATW Daily News, Nov. 22, 2011).