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Qantas and Virgin Australia workers will benefit from additional government payments while travel remains in the doldrums. On Thursday, Qantas revealed that thousands of its employees who usually work on its now-ground international flights would receive a weekly payment of $ 387 through the end of October. Virgin Australia will also get additional funding to help it launch more flights and get more crews in the air.
Financial reprieve for airline workers comes just in time
The news came a few weeks before the Australian JobKeeper program ended. The government-funded program has provided tens of billions of dollars in wage subsidies to around 3.6 million workers, including thousands at Qantas and Virgin Australia.
While many sectors of the economy are rebounding well, the travel slowdown continues to impact airlines and employees in the airline industry, especially those who typically make a living working on and around. international flights. Thousands of workers in Australia’s airline industry were feared to lose their jobs at the end of March.
Speaking on breakfast television on Friday, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenburg argued that it was imperative to keep these aviation workers in jobs, trained and skilled.
“This is to protect the sovereign capability of Australia’s international aviation”, said the treasurer. “Qantas and Virgin has decided to pay these workers on a regular basis, and we want to keep that sovereign capacity in Australia because as soon as our international borders open up, we need that capacity. We cannot afford to lose it.
It is the approximately 7,500 Qantas workers who depend on international services for their livelihoods who will directly benefit. Most of these workers have been on JobKeeper since mid-2020. Qantas suspended almost all of its international flights 12 months ago. Now almost all of these workers will receive the weekly payment of US $ 387 in a deal worth nearly US $ 87 million. They learned the good news at a town hall-style meeting on Thursday.
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Financial aid package also appreciated at Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia also had around 3,000 workers on JobKeeper at the end of January, and the CEO of that airline had publicly feared for their future if the government did not offer an assistance program once JobKeeper ended. Speaking at a Senate committee hearing in January, CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the end of JobKeeper would be devastating;
“The JobKeeper program, that salary support, allows them to stay whole and not be economically unstable as individuals or families.”
Today, the tone is more cheerful at Virgin Australia. The airline says the ongoing aid will allow more workers to return to work sooner, as the airline ramps up domestic flights and works on future international operations.
Jetstar crew members who work on that airline’s international flights and who are currently out of work will also be eligible for payment.
There is a growing sense of confidence that the Australian airline industry is on the rise. Domestic flights are now rebounding well. The Australian government is also helping this sector. Last week, they announced a more than $ 1 billion airline stimulus package that included hundreds of thousands of half-price domestic air tickets – a godsend for Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Internationally, the announcement of a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand is imminent. About a month later, there is a two-way travel bubble project with Singapore. The vaccination rollout continues and airlines are busy testing digital health passports. Qantas plans to resume international services at the end of October, just as this new support package ends. Things follow one another. Chances are, this will be the last aid package the Australian airline industry needs from the government.