LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has again advocated on behalf of staff at Qantas’ Cairns crew base, making a statement in Parliament yesterday on the impending job losses.
On 4 March, Mr Entsch wrote to the CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, and asked him to reconsider his decision, either allowing the base to remain, with a reduction in staff size if absolutely necessary, or to phase out the base over an extended period of time, with a review in 12 months.
He is yet to receive a response and yesterday learned that some crew members have accepted redundancies, because they are unable to relocate to a major city, and will finish on 4 May.
Others who are in a position to uproot and move to Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth will be gone by 30 June.
“This is very disappointing news,” Mr Entsch told Parliament. “When you think about it, the Qantas board of directors had a choice of three people to take on the CEO role.
“Their ‘choice’ took a world-class, full-service airline and transformed it into a low-cost, no-frills carrier. On the other hand, one of the successful candidates moved to a low-cost, no-frills carrier and turned it into an outstanding full-service carrier. One ponders who got the best deal: Qantas or Virgin.
“I would suggest many of Qantas’s woes could be addressed if the board were to revisit that decision. Qantas is a great airline with great staff and a great future. What it needs is a leader with comprehensive knowledge and the commitment to rebuilding and maintaining a full-service airline.”
Mr Entsch said a number of staff had contacted him privately to tell him how the closure had impacted them. Their comments included the following:
“As a family we love living in Cairns and we are not planning to relocate anywhere in the future. Qantas has forced us to uproot our lives and make major changes regarding our financial stability.”
“We have been challenged and distressed by Qantas’ decision. Our family enjoys living and working in Cairns. We share a sense of passion and engagement amongst the community and the diverse environment.”
“As locals on flights, we give great advice on what to see and do in Far North Queensland. We recommend locally owned operators and businesses. No other port in Australia has a crew so dedicated to promotion of their area.”
“Our outstanding commitment and performance has been overlooked by the upper echelon of corporate Qantas.”
“These comments are backed by the fact that Cairns consistently rates high in its customer service scores, as voted by the passengers, coming first in Australia in January, December and November,” Mr Entsch said. “This is adding to Qantas’ bottom line as fantastic customer service has an economic value and encourages repeat and referral bookings.”
Mr Entsch said his thoughts were with the Cairns Qantas staff and he vowed to continue to advocate for jobs and families in his region.