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Qantas to announce future direction soon, trying to avoid forced pilot job cuts -sources

By Jamie Freed

SYDNEY, June 22 (Reuters) – Qantas Airways Ltd has told pilots it plans to make an announcement on the airline’s future direction by the end of the month and that it hopes to avoid forced job cuts among flight crew, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Qantas International Chief Executive Tino La Spina made the remarks at a webinar with pilots on Monday, said the people, who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak with media.

La Spina said avoiding forced redundancies, which he would view as a “failure”, would require flexibility from the workforce as the airline grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, the people said.

Measures could include early retirement, voluntary redundancy and pilots agreeing to be paid for fewer than the minimum hours in their industrial agreements due to the lack of flying, one of the people said.

Qantas declined to comment directly on La Spina’s comments but pointed to previous statements that the airline is reviewing the scope and scale of its business due to the impact of the coronavirus and that it expects to be smaller in the future.

Most Qantas pilots have been stood down and are receiving government aid rather than their normal pay.

Rival Air New Zealand Ltd last month made 300 of its 1200 pilots redundant through forced cuts and voluntary exits, while the remainder agreed to the equivalent of a 30% pay cut for nine months, its pilot union said.

Qantas last week cancelled most international flights until late October after the Australian government indicated its border closure because of the coronavirus was likely to extend to 2021.

The airline had previously announced plans to retire its remaining five Boeing Co 747 jets by the end of the year and said it expects its 12 Airbus SE A380s to remain in storage for some time. At the same time, it is ramping up domestic capacity. (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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