QANTAS hopes to find $300 million a year by slashing 2800 jobs, or more than 10 per cent of its workforce, across its engineering, maintenance and catering operations, the airline's chief executive, Alan Joyce, told a US business forum yesterday.
''There is no doubt that the cost of transition is big,'' Mr Joyce told attendees at the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney.
Pledging to return the loss-making Qantas International division to profit in three years, Mr Joyce said he expected the airline to report a ''statutory loss'' in its annual results later this month, reflecting high fuel prices, its restructuring costs and ''the cost of the industrial dispute'', he said.
The Qantas cutbacks include job losses, previously announced, stemming from:
■Reducing three heavy maintenance bases to two.
■Selling two of its seven catering outlets.
■Reducing ''unnecessary'' pre-flight engineering checks on aircraft.
■Closing its LTQ Tullamarine jet engine workshop.
■Streamlining component maintenance.
■Increasing cockpit productivity via Apple iPads to replace paperwork.
But passengers are increasingly shunning the Flying Kangaroo, as Qantas' share of international travel to and from Australia shrinks while foreign airlines mop up, latest official government figures for May show.
Qantas' share of Australia's international passenger market for May dropped to 18.4 per cent, down from 19.2 per cent in May last year (and down from 20.2 per cent in May 2010) - although it still enjoys nearly double the market share of its nearest rival.
Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air New Zealand grew their share of Australia's international travel, data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows. Qantas attributed its decline to overseas airlines' lower overheads.
''While Qantas remains extremely strong in the domestic market, increased competition from Asian and Middle Eastern airlines with lower cost bases has reduced our international market share,'' a Qantas spokesman said.
''This underlines the importance of the transformation plan that Qantas announced last year to turn around our international business.''
Singapore Airlines, retaining its number-two ranking, carried 9.4 per cent of Australia's international air traffic, up from 8.8 per cent in May last year.
Qantas has also won a victory in its long-running dispute with 3800 baggage handlers after the industrial umpire rejected their claim for a limit to the outsourcing of work.
It also decided to give its employees covered by the Transport Workers Union a 3 per cent annual pay rise. They had sought 5 per cent.
With MATT O'SULLIVAN