The million-dollar bonuses set to be handed out to Qantas executives have sparked outrage after the airline took $2billion in taxpayer money during the pandemic and illegally sacked thousands of workers.
The airline is battling mass flight cancellations, lengthy customer delays and misplaced baggage issues causing chaos for travelers months on from borders re-opening.
QantasLink topped the list for canceled flights in April this year with 591 getting the chop closely followed by Qantas with 426, data from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics shows.
May was even higher with one in every 13 Qantas flights canceled or 7.6 per cent of the airline’s total flights, up from 5.1 per cent the previous month.
But in a statement to the ASX in June, Qantas revealed four senior executives would be paid company shares worth a combined total of more than $4million on top of their salary.
Alan Joyce (pictured), Qantas CEO, acknowledged delays and flight cancellations over Easter and the June – July holidays were ‘not the airline’s finest hour’
Qantas topped the list for canceled flights of all Australian based airlines in April and May (pictured: a passenger at Sydney Airport)
Qantas CFO Vanessa Hudson will be eligible for $1.15million in shares, Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans will be handed $1.22million, Qantas domestic and international CEO Andrew David will receive $1.15million, and Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth is up for $985,000 in stock.
The bonuses will be paid in August 2023 if the executives meet performance targets, though Mr Evans has since resigned.
Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas slammed the payments.
‘From an engineer’s perspective, it’s absolutely disgusting that people are given bonuses the size of a lotto win and we are being labeled as greedy for wanting a pay rise when we have not had one in four years,’ Mr Purvinas told the Daily Telegraph.
‘With airline baggage loss and other deficiencies how can they consider paying any bonuses whatsoever.’
Vanessa Hudson, chief financial officer of Qantas will get more than a $1million in stock if she meets performance targets (pictured)
Transport Workers Union National Secretary Michael Kaine echoed the statement and said the bonuses ‘rub salt into the wounds of sacked employees’.
‘School holidays and the Easter holidays have been absolutely ruined by the decision of Qantas to illegally sack 2000 workers,’ he told 9News.
‘The man who made that decision has just been awarded a bonus by Alan Joyce of $1.1 million worth of shares.’
Some non-executive Qantas staff will also be offered a bonus of 1,000 Qantas shares valued at about $5,000 if they meet the criteria and still have a job with the airline.
Early in the pandemic Qantas stood down more than 10,000 staff, followed by another round of more than 2,500 in August 2021.
The company also accepted $2billion of taxpayer funds in the form of Covid stimulus payments.
In May, Qantas lost an appeal against a Federal Court decision that outsourcing 2,000 ground crew roles was illegal, though the company intends to appeal.
The court ruled the airline breached the Fair Work Act when it axed the employees during the Covid crises in favor of a cheaper alternative provided by companies such as Swissport.
Jetstar boss Gareth Evans (left) and loyalty program CEO Olivia Wirth (right) have been offered performance bonuses
‘A lot of the older guys with 30 years-plus experience, they had no idea how to even apply online for a job. So it affected the older guys,’ one employee told the Today Show.
‘You have got a skilled workforce that just has been totally sacked,’ he said.
‘Bags being in rooms for weeks, waiting to be claimed. There has been damage to plans.
‘They are contractors, they are not even employed by Qantas. They don’t even get staff travel.
‘There is no incentive even to want to stay there. You can’t just learn 30 years experience with a 20-minute security or safety online course.’
The airline has rehired about 1,000 staff since Easter, mainly in customer service roles.
Transport Workers Union National Secretary Michael Kaine echoed the statement and said the bonuses ‘rub salt into the wounds of sacked employees’. Pictured: Massive queue at Sydney airport on December 18, 2020
A Qantas spokesperson defended the scale of the executives’ bonuses.
‘These are outrageous statements from the unions and completely ignore the fact that we intend to reward the contribution of all Qantas and Jetstar employees if the Group successfully delivers its Covid-recovery program,’ they said.
‘These unions know that since 2015 we have paid out more than $300 million in bonuses to our frontline staff.’
Mr Joyce addressed staff shortages and passenger disruptions during an interview with 2GB Radio host Ben Fordham, where he admitted the company failed over the Easter long weekend but were back to pre-Covid levels of operations.
Qantas is battling mass flight cancellations, lengthy customer delays and misplaced baggage issues causing chaos for travelers months on from borders re-opening. Pictured: Hobart airport
‘It’s booming at the moment but we had two years of people locked up and now people are wanting to travel. The domestic levels are back to pre-Covid levels or above it,’ he said.
‘Before Covid everything was in perfect balance, it ran smoothly. What we saw over Easter was not the aviation industry’s finest hour. Parts of the system didn’t run very well, we saw the queues at the airport, higher level of sick leave and in some cases up to 50 per cent of people taking sick leave.
‘There’s been a big improvement and we now think the call centers are fixed and better than before Covid.’