Qantas to Cut 480 Maintenance Jobs

Qantas Airways Ltd. said Thursday that it will cut 480 maintenance jobs by May as part of a major review of its aircraft engineering operations, and would not rule out moving thousands of jobs overseas in the future.

The cuts will come as the national carrier transfers its heavy maintenance operations for Boeing 747 aircraft from Sydney to its base in the southern state of Victoria, Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said.

Unions had feared Qantas was planning to outsource thousands of maintenance jobs offshore as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Dixon said the company would keep its heavy maintenance facilities in Australia for the time being. But he warned that a "longer term commitment to retaining the operations in Australia" would depend on the company becoming more competitive.

Dixon said the closure of the Sydney base would lead to the loss of around 480 jobs, but said that figure could drop to around 340 through redeployment of staff.

Qantas has cast doubt over the future of its long-haul heavy maintenance facilities as it continues an aggressive cost-cutting drive. Dixon is seeking to make 3 billion Australian dollars ($2.2 billion) worth of savings over five years.

Heavy maintenance for the Boeing 767 fleet will continue at the airline's Brisbane base, while the company would review maintenance of narrow body aircraft, currently carried in Melbourne, over the next six months.

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