Virgin Australia to hire Qantas rejects

Release date: 19/08/2011

Virgin Australia is in secret talks with aviation unions to rescue 1000 workers Qantas is planning to sack. 

Joe Hildebrand, The Daily Telegragh


Confidential correspondence reveals Virgin is also seeking to usurp Qantas's patriotic branding as the "Spirit of Australia".


Virgin Group executive Richard Tanner even said the airline was prepared to deal directly with its rival to take the workers off its hands.


"We are keen to ensure that as many as possible of the highly skilled staff being displaced by Qantas are provided the opportunity to be considered for suitable roles at our airline," Mr Tanner said in the correspondence.


"We are willing to liaise directly with Qantas and the aviation unions to help as many of the redundant Qantas staff as possible."


And in a dig at Qantas's positioning as an Australian icon, Mr Tanner signed off: "Virgin Australia is committed to its Australian roots."


A Qantas spokesman last night said: "This is a very difficult time for many Qantas employees and we hope this is a genuine offer rather than a ... PR stunt.


"Qantas will continue to be one of the biggest employers of Australians with more than 30,000 people.


"Virgin does all of its heavy aircraft maintenance overseas and has also offshored its call centres. Qantas pilots and cabin crew are also paid significantly more than their Virgin counterparts."


Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon said the Virgin offer proved there was a strong future for the industry.


"This is the challenge Qantas has got: They're expanding the airline but getting rid of Australian jobs and that's a very fundamental mistake," he said.


Mr Sheldon claimed tens of thousands of workers could lose their jobs under outsourcing plans - 5000 over five years from Qantas and an estimated 6.5 flow-on jobs for each of those. Qantas has fiercely rejected the claims.


Australian International Pilots Association president Captain Barry Jackson warned that Qantas could lose its reputation as Australia's national carrier.


"Qantas has enjoyed an enormous natural advantage over Virgin when it comes to reputation and Australian identity," he said.


"Yet the way things are going ... things could turn around very, very quickly."


The Aviation Unions Federation of Australia, which represents all workers in the industry, said the Virgin move proved an airline could be profitable with local staff and "flies in the face of Qantas's statements that they cannot survive in Australia"

Click here to read the story on the Daily Telegraph website

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