Monday, May 21, 2012

High noon: Qantas competes with Craig Thomson as it announces 500 job cuts

The announcement hit the Australian Stock Exchange at 11.58am as political, business and aviation writers waited for the embattled and exiled Labor MP Craig Thomson to address the House of Representatives in Canberra.

As Mr Thomson began his defence of the various allegations before him, news flashed in red over the financial wires that Qantas had decided to consolidate its heavy maintenance operations - and that Tullaramarine and Avalon in Melbourne were the biggest losers.

Listen to my analysis on The World Today broadcast shortly after the announcement to the ASX.

It may well have been a coincidence, but the timing had the potential to create the perception that it was a classic diversion spin strategy to minimise fallout from the latest chapter in the survival of Qantas.

Responding to questions about the timing of the announcement, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said because of the market sensitive nature staff and unions were briefed simultaneously. 

Not surprisingly, the Transport Workers Union has accused Qantas of attempting to deflect attention by announcing the job cuts as Mr Thomson spoke.

"Their spin doctors are again working overtime to avoid responsibility of downsizing and outsourcing a very successful airline," according to TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.

Qantas shares closed flat at $1,43 after briefly rising to $1.45 on the news of the sackings.

The share price is a fare cry from the $5.34 reached in November 2007 after Airline Partners Australia made its failed bid.

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