We did all we could to save Avalon jobs: Baillieu

Premier Ted Baillieu has said the state government did all it could to prevent the latest Qantas job losses at Avalon airport.

The airline today announced 500 engineering jobs would go at Sydney and Avalon as it consolidated its heavy maintenance work in Brisbane. About 250 contractors at Avalon airport are expected to lose their jobs.

"Qantas have made it very clear to us and broadly that we could not have done more to retain that work," he said. "We have worked to retain the heavy maintenance work at Avalon on the 747 fleet, and that will continue through 2013. And I've talked again with [Qantas chief executive] Alan Joyce today about looking at the opportunities beyond that."

In May, when Qantas announced the closure of its heavy maintenance base at Tullamarine with the loss of 422 jobs, Mr Baillieu told parliament the government's efforts had been "critical to ensuring that Avalon remains as a heavy maintenance facility".

Mr Baillieu said today's announcement confirmed what Qantas had previously indicated, "that when the reconfiguration work for nine 747s is concluded that those workers would not have that additional work."

"We said that there would be 500 continuing jobs and that was the case. But there was always the issue about the reconfiguration program concluding and ... Qantas flagged that at the time."

"This is obviously disappointing for the families, disappointing for the workers and we will continue to work with them as they transition," Mr Baillieu said.

Steve Purvinis, federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, said those who lost their jobs at Avalon would struggle to adapt.

"They have qualifications that are not easily transportable into any other industries," Mr Purvinis said. "They can't sit a one week course and become household electricians. These are aircraft people."

This story We did all we could to save Avalon jobs: Baillieu first appeared on The Age.