Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has revealed he’s had “a good conversation” with the Prime Minister about extending JobKeeper or an alternative lifeline to the airline industry in the wake of 6000 job losses.
As the Morrison Government finalises a review of the $1500 a fortnight allowance that is scheduled to expire in late September, there are renewed calls to extend the subsidy.
But Qantas has moved ahead of that review to announce thousands of job losses, while urging the Prime Minister to extend the wage subsidy for the tourism industry.
“Right now all airlines are in the middle of the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced,” Mr Joyce said.
“Airline revenues have collapsed, entire fleets have been grounded. And the world’s biggest carriers are taking extreme action just to survive.
“We’re now facing a sudden reversal of fortune that is no one’s fault, but is very hard to accept.”
Mr Joyce said the talks to extend JobKeeper beyond September for Qantas were ongoing.
“I think they know, the Prime Minister, the Treasurer have said there are some industries that are more affected by this than others and the tail of those industries in terms of how long it will take to recover is a lot longer than other industries, so they haven’t made a call,” he said.
“But I think it does help for them to know the size of the Qantas issue, what we think is going to happen, to inform them on the decision they are making on JobKeeper and alternatives.”
Speaking this morning, the Prime Minister did not rule out an extension of JobKeeper for specific industries.
“These are hard days in Australia. They’re very hard days. And our strength and our togetherness is tested on almost a daily basis,” Mr Morrison said.
“What I said, as Alan faithfully repeated today, was that we know that there are sectors that will continue to be held down by the COVID recession, because of the restrictions that are in place, such as in this sector, or in the global aviation sector, which has been decimated.
“And so I was very clear last night that we know that those sectors that continue to be significantly affected will need continued support. And so we are just working through the best way to target and deliver that support.
“As he said today, whether it’s through JobKeeper or other measures, what matters is actually an understanding that that’s the problem.”
Mr Joyce said Qantas “obviously” wanted the borders to be opened up as soon as possible.
“But we recognise the management of the COVID-19 has been a priority for everybody, but we do think that there’s 1 million jobs dependent on the tourism industry,” he said.
Labor’s treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said it was clear JobKeeper needed to be extended beyond September.
“The Prime Minister’s claim that Australia’s recession is not as bad as other countries like the US will be cold comfort to the hundreds of thousands of Australians excluded from JobKeeper who have been forced to join the unemployment queues,” he said.
“Unemployment is worse than it needs to be, the recession is deeper than necessary, and the recovery will be that much harder because Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have bungled key programs like JobKeeper.”