The million-dollar bonuses to be distributed to Qantas executives have sparked outrage after the airline took $2 billion in taxpayers’ money during the pandemic and illegally fired thousands of employees.
The airline is struggling with massive flight cancellations, lengthy customer delays and lost luggage issues that are causing chaos for travelers months after the borders reopened.
QantasLink topped the list for canceled flights in April this year with 591, closely followed by Qantas with 426, according to data from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics.
May was even higher with one in every 13 Qantas flights canceled or 7.6 percent of the airline’s total flights, up from 5.1 percent the previous month.
Alan Joyce (pictured), Qantas CEO, acknowledged that flight delays and cancellations over Easter and the June-July holidays “were not the airline’s best hour”
But in a statement to the ASX in June, Qantas revealed that four senior executives would receive company shares totaling more than $4 million on top of their salaries.
Qantas CFO Vanessa Hudson will be eligible for $1.15 million in shares, Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans will receive $1.22 million, Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David will receive $1.15 million and Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth has $985,000 in stock.
The bonuses will be paid in August 2023 if executives meet performance targets, although Mr. Evans has since stepped down.
The federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association Steve Purvinas slammed the payments.
“From an engineer’s perspective it is absolutely disgusting that people are getting bonuses the size of a lottery win and that we are being labeled as greedy for wanting a raise when we haven’t had one in four years,” Mr Purvinas told the Daily telegraph.
“Given airline baggage loss and other shortcomings, how can they even consider paying any bonus.”
National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, Michael Kaine, echoed the statement, saying the bonuses “rub salt in the wounds of laid-off workers.”
“School and Easter holidays have been totally ruined by Qantas’ decision to illegally lay off 2,000 workers,” he told 9News.
“The man who made that decision just got a bonus from Alan Joyce of $1.1 million in stock.”
Some non-executive Qantas employees also receive a bonus of 1,000 Qantas shares worth approximately $5,000 if they meet the criteria and still have a job with the airline.
Qantas laid off more than 10,000 employees at the start of the pandemic, followed by another round of more than 2,500 in August 2021.
The company also accepted $2 billion in taxpayer money in the form of Covid stimulus payments.
Qantas topped all Australian airlines’ canceled flights in April and May (Photo: A passenger at Sydney Airport)
In May, Qantas lost an appeal against a federal court decision that outsourcing 2,000 ground staff roles was illegal, though the company plans to appeal.
The court ruled that the airline violated the Fair Work Act by firing its employees during the Covid crisis in favor of a cheaper alternative from companies like Swissport.
“Many of the older guys with over 30 years of experience had no idea how to even apply online. So it affected the older guys,” an employee told the Today Show.
“You have a skilled workforce that was just completely laid off,” he said.
“Bags that lie in rooms for weeks, waiting to be claimed. There is damage to aircraft.
Vanessa Hudson, Qantas chief financial officer, will get more than $1 million in inventory if she meets performance goals (pictured)
“They’re contractors, they’re not even employed by Qantas. They don’t even get staff trips.
“There is no incentive to want to stay there. You don’t just learn 30 years of experience with a 20-minute security or safety online course.’
The airline has rehired about 1,000 employees since Easter, mostly in customer service roles.
A Qantas spokesperson defended the size of the executives’ bonuses.
“These are outrageous statements by the unions and completely ignore the fact that we intend to reward the contribution of all Qantas and Jetstar employees if the Group successfully implements its Covid recovery program,” they said.
Jetstar boss Gareth Evans (left) and loyalty program CEO Olivia Wirth (right) are offered performance bonuses
“These unions know that we have paid more than $300 million in bonuses to our frontline workers since 2015.”
Mr Joyce spoke of staff shortages and passenger disruptions during an interview with 2GB Radio presenter Ben Fordham, where he admitted the company failed over the long Easter weekend but was back to pre-Covid levels.
Qantas is grappling with massive flight cancellations, lengthy customer delays and lost luggage issues that are wreaking havoc for travelers months after the borders reopened. Pictured: Hobart Airport
National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, Michael Kaine, echoed the statement, saying the bonuses “rub salt in the wounds of laid-off workers.” Pictured: Huge queue at Sydney Airport on December 18, 2020
“It’s booming right now, but we’ve had people locked up for two years and now people want to travel. Domestic levels are back to pre-Covid levels or above,” he said.
‘Before Covid everything was perfectly in balance, it ran smoothly. What we saw at Easter was not the best moment of the aviation industry. Parts of the system didn’t work very well, we saw airport queues, higher absenteeism and in some cases up to 50 percent of people taking sick leave.
“There has been a big improvement and we now think the call centers are solid and better than before Covid.”