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Fri, Nov 16, 2001 - Page 21 News List

Qantas says it will fire as many as 2,000 employees

AP , SYDNEY

Qantas, Australia's biggest airline, announced yesterday it will cut between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs -- about 6 percent of its staff -- blaming the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for the decision.

Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said the airline also would pare back its international flight schedule -- including ending all flights to New York -- because of sliding demand since the attacks on New York and Washington.

The airline has cut its international flights by about 11 percent since Sept. 11. The Sydney-based carrier also said it will retire its fleet of five Boeing 747-200 aircraft beginning in April. The aircraft had been scheduled to be phased out from late 2003.

Qantas said it will also make "extensive internal changes" by moving a largenumber of staff from its international operation to its domestic operations.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Qantas said all flights to New York will be cut from Nov. 25, and flights would be reduced to Rome, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Manila and Buenos Aires.

Dixon said the moves were designed to "bolster decisions made last month to respond to the international aviation downturn resulting from the terrorist attack, to lower its cost base and to put it in a strong position to take advantage of the inevitable recovery of the international aviation market."

Qantas already is seeking a staff wage freeze for 12 to 18 months and substantial changes to domestic operations. Unions have threatened strike action over the proposed wage freeze.

Dixon said bookings from Japan are down 25 percent, while bookings from the UK have slumped 23 percent.

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