An email file copied to Crikey contradicts Qantas claims that pilot jobs are not at risk in the current dispute between the group and the Australian and International Pilots Association.

In its last two media releases Qantas has said “Qantas has not made a pilot redundant in almost 40 years and there is no threat to the job security of our pilots.”


But the email file compiled by a Qantas pilot includes the following:

Memo to Flight Crew 09/0060 — Managing Surplus Crew (12 June, 2009) by Peter Wilson:

“… based on the current flying plan we have a surplus of between 140 and 150 Flight Crew.”


Memo to Flight Crew 09/0070 — Update on managing surplus crew (31 July, 2009) by Dick Tobiano:

‘”I know that this is an unnerving time for you, especially the First and Second Officers living with anxiety about ongoing job security. I can assure you that I am exploring all the alternatives to ending any Qantas pilot’s employment and so far we have been able to avoid initiating crew redundancies.”

Memo to Flight Crew 09/0072 — Flight Operations’ plans to address pilot surplus (11 August 2009) by Peter Wilson:

As you’re very aware by now, the reduced flying has resulted in a surplus of B767 First Officers and Second Officers across all fleets.”

“Flight Operations has been able to develop a solution that manages the current surplus without making any pilot redundant, provided market conditions do not worsen.”


Memo to Flight Crew 09/0073 — Addressing the pilot surplus (14 August 2009) by Peter Wilson:

… Flight Operations’ plan for addressing the current pilot surplus without the need to provide notice of redundancy to any Second Officers.”

Then it goes on to say in the section about the options they were exploring:

“… and then make the most-junior Second Officers redundant;”

“… and again, make the most junior Second Officers redundant;”

Memo to Flight Crew 09/0103 — Update on the pilot surplus (1 December, 2009) by Dick Tobiano:

When it became clear in the middle of the year that some Second Officers could potentially face redundancy due to the reduction in flying …”

“… will be absolutely crucial to avoid returning to a position of unmanageable surpluses in our Second Officer ranks on all fleets.”

Given that on February 3  Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said long-haul operations were losing significant sums of money and were unsustainable, it is clear that there hasn’t been an improvement, which makes these earlier emails relevant in the current situation.

However, this war of words between the pilot union and Qantas is distracting attention from the core issue, that Qantas admits it has a failed international operation,  caused by inadequate fleet and network planning decisions that a management, led by Joyce, has tolerated for more than two years, during which there have been no dividends to shareholders and weak aggregated profit results excluding the sale of frequent flyer points to third parties.

Qantas is clearly taking urgent steps to eradicate legacy terms and conditions from its cost structure,  including what is described  as “unaffordable excellence” in this analysis on Crikey blog Plane Talking.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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