Qantas moving headquarters from Sydney to Melbourne appears a serious possibility, with chief executive Alan Joyce jetting into Victoria two days after the border with NSW reopened and meeting the Premier.
Mr Joyce toured the Melbourne Airport precinct on Wednesday as part of the airline’s broad property review process, announced in September, before holding talks with Daniel Andrews.
“As Premier, I am proud to spend every day fighting for Victorian jobs – these opportunities are even more crucial as we rebuild from the global pandemic,” Mr Andrews said in a statement.
“That has been the centre of this week’s budget.
“We continue to have constructive discussions with our national carrier about high-skilled, high-wage jobs for Victoria.”
Qantas declined to comment on Thursday.
When it announced the review, the media release headlined “possible interstate move for national carrier HQ” described it as part of the group’s overall “reset” and recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has battered the sector.
Qantas said it would shrink its property footprint after previously revealed job losses – about one-quarter of which were corporate and head office employees.
The review is focusing chiefly on non-aviation facilities – including its leased 49,000 square metre head office at Mascot in Sydney and Jetstar’s leased head office at Collingwood in Melbourne.
“We’re looking right across the organisation for efficiencies, including our $40 million annual spend on leased office space,” chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson said at the time.
“Like most airlines, the ongoing impact of COVID means we’ll be a much smaller company for a while.
“As well as simply rightsizing the amount of space we have, there are opportunities to consolidate some facilities and unlock economies of scale.
“For instance, we could co-locate the Qantas and Jetstar head offices in a single place rather than splitting them across Sydney and Melbourne.”
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said moving headquarters would “impose costs on the company at a time it is crying poor” and slashing jobs.
“Instead of travelling around Australia, checking out a new home for Qantas headquarters, Alan Joyce should be examining the competitive bid his 2000 baggage, ramp and cleaning workers put in this week, with a view to allowing them to keep doing their jobs,” Mr Kaine said.
Qantas announced in August it wanted to outsource the one-the-ground work to external contractors.
“Workers through the bid they put in for their own jobs, with the assistance of EY, have identified millions of dollars in cost savings and efficiencies,” Mr Kaine said.
“Workers are hanging on to hear if Qantas will accept their bid for their jobs – Mr Joyce should accept this bid now.”
The TWU wants states and territories to set strict conditions on retaining jobs for Qantas staff before offering financial incentives in a bid to woo the company to their jurisdiction.
A Melbourne Airport spokeswoman said it was hoped Qantas would make the head office switch to Victoria.