Qantas is set to create more than 8,500 roles in the next ten years – more than offsetting all its redundancies during COVID.
The Flying Kangaroo made the surprise announcement on Friday alongside unveiling plans to set up a new engineering academy that will train 300 people each year.
The news is likely to see the airline face more criticism that it cut too many positions during the pandemic, with staff shortages hampering its ability to return to full capacity last year.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said aviation is important to a country like Australia and needs a big skills pipeline to power it.
“That’s not just about the major airlines but also small regional operators, defence and general aviation,” he said.
“It’s a whole ecosystem that pilots and engineers, in particular, make their way through, and the long-term skills base required means it relies on constant renewal.
“Qantas is already the single biggest investor in aviation skills in Australia, especially when you consider the constant training of our pilots, engineers and cabin crew just to maintain the status quo.”
The business added its new engineering academy would provide staff for its own operations as well as defence contractors and general aviation. It will open to its first students in 2025 and will collaborate with registered training providers.
A decision as to its location will be made by the end of 2023.
“From a growth perspective, we opened our pilot academy three years ago, and today we’re announcing plans for an engineering academy, which will produce up to 300 trained people a year that will meet Qantas’ needs as well as Australia’s broader aviation ecosystem.
“We order aircraft up to 10 years in advance, so we need to think similarly long-term about the people and skills we need to operate them.
“Over that period of time, we’ll create an estimated 8,500 new aviation jobs in Australia, and most of those jobs require years of training.
“We look forward to working with the industry, training organisations, unions and governments to finalise details for the engineering academy.
“In the near term, we’re gearing up to meet the growth in all of the markets we serve. We have more aircraft arriving every month, and that means we need more pilots, engineers, cabin crew and others.
“Over the next 18 months, we expect to create more than 2,000 new jobs plus replacing natural attrition, so if you’ve ever wanted to work in aviation or at the national carrier, now’s a great time to join.”
Pre-pandemic, Qantas employed 29,000 people in 2019 but made around 8,000 redundant in 2020. The airline now believes it will employ 32,000 people by 2033, compared with 23,500 now.
The announcement comes alongside a major fleet renewal program that means it will either buy or have purchase rights to up to 299 narrowbody and 12 widebody aircraft for delivery over the next decade.
This includes six more A321s that it will then convert into freighters; 12 Airbus A350-1000 jets to launch Project Sunrise; and 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 A220-300s to fly its domestic routes, which includes an option to purchase up to 94 additional aircraft through to 2034.
Jetstar, meanwhile, is currently beginning the delivery of 38 A320 NEOs, comprised of 18 A321 LR and 20 A321XLR aircraft.