Pilots angered by Qantas pocketing Government JobKeeper Payments

Pilots angered by Qantas pocketing Government JobKeeper Payments

Airline pilots at Qantas and Jetstar have expressed anger at the way the Qantas Group intends to apply the Government’s new JobKeeper payment.

“This is a desperate and anxious time for airline pilots. They have been stood down without pay with no certainty as to when they will resume duties and start to be paid a wage again,” said AFAP Executive Director Simon Lutton.

“For a company that has continually bragged about the health of its balance sheet, Qantas has taken an outrageous interpretation of the Government’s (yet to be finalised) JobKeeper payment.”

“Pilots are being stood down without pay. The Government is giving Qantas and Jetstar $1500 per fortnight for each pilot.  One way or another Qantas and Jetstar needs to pass on the $1500 per fortnight payment they have received from Government directly to each pilot they have stood down without pay,” said Mr Lutton.

“Whether a pilot who is stood down without pay decides to draw down on paid leave balances, use their savings, borrow money from a friend or sell their furniture to make ends meet is irrelevant to whether they should receive the JobKeeper payment.”

“Qantas has stood them down without pay. They need to pass on the government money they have received for each pilot as intended.”

“This is not the spirit of Australia.  It is far from it,” concluded Mr Lutton.


As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, most airline pilots within the Qantas and Jetstar Group have been stood down without pay.

On Monday the Federal Government announced the “JobKeeper payment”.  This scheme provides for a wage subsidy of $1500 per fortnight for employees within affected businesses such as the Qantas and its Jetstar subsidiary.  Details of this payment are still to be finalised and it has not yet been passed into legislation.  This is expected to occur on Wednesday.

On Friday 3 April, the Qantas Group provided pilots with a Q&A Fact sheet on how they intend to apply the newly announced JobKeeper payment.  This Q&A states Qantas and Jetstar would not pass on the $1500 wage subsidy to pilots who elected to draw down on their annual or long service leave balances while they are stood down without pay. 

Jetstar went even further, suggesting they may also offset the $1500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment against any meal and other allowances they earned in March (when they last worked) but are not due to be paid or reimbursed until the April pay-run.

Established in 1938, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) is Australia’s largest pilot union representing more than 5000 Australian commercial pilots.


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