The airline said in a statement the employees, across both Qantas and Jetstar, would be stood down for an “estimated” two months.
CEO Alan Joyce said it was the “last thing” the company wanted to do.
“We’ve absorbed a significant amount of cost since these recent lockdowns started and continued paying our people their full rosters despite thousands of cancelled flights,” he said.
“Qantas and Jetstar have gone from operating almost 100 per cent of their usual domestic flying in May to less than 40 per cent in July because of lockdowns in three states.”
Affected employees will be given two weeks’ notice before the stand-down takes effect, with pay to continue until mid-August.
The airline said no job losses were expected.
Among the stood-down workers will be pilots, cabin crew, and airport workers.
Qantas said most would be in New South Wales.
“Based on current case numbers, it’s reasonable to assume that Sydney’s borders will be closed for at least another two months,” Mr Joyce said.
“We know it will take a few weeks once the outbreak is under control before other states open to New South Wales and normal travel can resume.
“Fortunately, we know that once borders do reopen, travel is at the top of people’s list and flying tends to come back quickly, so we can get our employees back to work.”
The Australian Services Union (ASU), which represents most aviation workers working in an airport, has called for confirmation from the government that its workers will supported.
ASU Assistant National Secretary Emeline Gaske said today’s announcement was “devastating” for Qantas and Jetstar workers.
“These workers have had 18 months of hell – with many exhausting their savings, being forced to sell their homes, and tap into essential superannuation funds,” she said.
At present the government’s aviation support package indicates that pilots and flight attendants would be covered, but ground crew might not be.
“A bastardised JobKeeper system that establishes two classes of workers does not make sense and would be an act of unspeakable cruelty to those who are abandoned,” Ms Gaske said.
“Aviation workers are hanging by a thread, whether they work for a domestic airline, a foreign airline or in an airport support role.”