Is the Flying Kangaroo playing possum on jobs?

Media reports say that Qantas is priming to sack 5000 staff. But can this be right when Qantas Group as a whole has only shed 405 jobs in the past five years?

Can you guess how many jobs Qantas is going cull?

Early reports predicted the national carrier would cut around 2000 jobs. By this morning that figure had been revised up to 5000 ahead of the national carriers’ half-year result, due later this week.

That last number is a staggering figure in its own right. But it’s even more shocking when you consider that in the past five years, since current chief executive Alan Joyce took charge of the airline, Qantas (not including Jetstar and its other businesses) has only managed to shed just under 4000 jobs. In fact, the majority of these cuts (1,937 to be exact) were made in 2008, and were announced before Joyce took up the role in November.

In fact, as a whole, net employment at Qantas Group has only dropped by 405 from 2008 to 2013.

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The number of jobs Qantas (the airline, not Qantas Group the company) has actually shed doesn’t even come close to the number that media reports say it’s going to cut. We’ve sourced reports, listed in the chart below, that quote both Joyce and other ‘sources’ and found that they both vastly over-estimate the number of job cuts at Qantas.

There’s another thing that may have been missed in the media's reporting of Qantas: job growth.

While the airline is priming to kick its staff out the door, the its budget arm Jetstar is welcoming them with open arms – and likely a lower pay check.

As Qantas axed jobs in recent years, Jetstar has nearly doubled the number of full-time staff it employs over the same period. And according to its annual report, Qantas’ rival Virgin Australia has also hired around 1000 extra full-time employees in the past three years.

What this graph, and Qantas’ data, doesn’t reveal is how many of these workers are employed in Australia and how many are overseas employees. However, if we assume that the jobs are where the passengers are, then Jetstar domestic would account for the majority of these roles, as it still services more customers than the combined total of Jetstar’s Asia and international arms.

Jetstar has never been shy to talk about its growth trajectory, but oddly enough it’s rare to see any stories about how many jobs it’s created in the past five years. Meanwhile, the headlines are dominated by predictions of job cuts at Qantas.

Got a question? Ask the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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