Qantas has confirmed it will close its Avalon heavy maintenance base in late March next year, citing the rationalisation of its 747 fleet, and resulting in the loss of 53 Qantas and 246 Forstaff contractor staff.
“Qantas is gradually retiring our fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, which means there is not enough work to keep our Avalon base viable and productive,” Qantas Domestic CEO Lyall Strambi.
“Over the next four years there would have been up to 22 months with no scheduled maintenance at Avalon. No business could afford to continue operating a facility under those circumstances.”
Today Qantas has 15 747-400s in service, down from a peak of 34, with plans to cut that further to just 10.
“Avalon has become subscale,” said Strambi. “This decision in no way reflects on our employees at Avalon, it simply reflects the structural changes to our fleet that means long periods of no heavy maintenance work.”
The decision is the result of a “comprehensive” review into the facility, which included, Strambi said, looking at moving work to Avalon from other Qantas facilities, particularly its Brisbane heavy maintenance, and third party work. He also acknowledged a ALAEA union offer for its Avalon workers to go on three months pay without leave to help keep the facility open, but that three months leave was “just a drop in the ocean and doesn’t solve the problem”.
Strambi said Qantas will now work with its affected employees to “explore redployment opportunities”.
It will also consider where future 747-400 maintenance work will take place, with Qantas looking both onshore at is Brisbane facility and at third-party facilities in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK and US.
On the timing of the decision for future 747 maintenance Strambi said that Qantas had “well into next year before we have to make that determination”.
Qantas has already closed its Tullamarine maintenance facility, consolidating heavy maintenance for A330s, 767s and 737s at an enlarged Brisbane facility.