12:20pm Sep 8, 2021
Australia’s reopening of global travel could be put back months due to a “torrential exit” of ground based aviation workers, industry bodies have warned.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Aviation Ground Handlers Industry Alliance (AAGHIA) told a Senate committee that hundreds of flights could be cancelled.
They argue the exclusion of ground handlers from government wage subsidies for the aviation sector could result in thousands of skilled workers leaving the industry.
The restart of international travel could be put back months due to a shortage of ground based aviation workers, industry groups warn. (Nine)TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the industry could see a “torrential exit” of skilled workers that have missed out on the government’s aviation and COVID disaster relief payments.
“People simply cannot be stood down, indefinitely, without pay,” Mr Kaine told the Senate rural and regional affairs and transport references committee on Monday.
“They won’t be able to support their families and so they will leave the industry.
“This could well lead to a situation where our aviation capacity is grounded for a period of time when we need it the most.”
The AAGHIA says there are about 4000 ground workers around Australia who are currently stood down without pay who don’t live in coronavirus hotspots, making them non-eligible for the government’s COVID-related disaster payments of $750 per week.
Qantas has announced it plans to launch international flights once vaccination rates in Australia reach 80 per cent. Photo by Paul Rovere (Supplied)The industry body said it could take up to six months to recruit, train, and accredit new workers to regulatory standard before ground operations can restart, and airlines can return to pre-pandemic operations.
Airlines have flagged a reopening of international flights beginning before Christmas.
The airline said the initial routes planned were for destinations with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with flights to resume by mid-December 2021.