Qantas: Labor senator Tony Sheldon blasts Qantas, Joyce

A government senator has unloaded on Qantas and Alan Joyce over a move he claims will strip 1300 workers of their overtime payments.

The comments, made by NSW Labor Senator Tony Sheldon before reporters on Wednesday, came on the day the airline upgraded its profit expectations by $150 million.

“These are workers who, when somebody is stranded, they turn around and work the extra hours,” the Senator said.

“They’ll do that whether they’re on overtime payments or on their salary payments,” Mr Sheldon said.

“The difference is Alan Joyce doesn’t want to pay them and that’s part of his war on the middle class of this country,” he told reporters outside Parliament House.

Mr Sheldon said it was an “orchestrated approach” by business.

“Pay the overtime, respect your workforce and respect the Australians working hard for your company,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Qantas upgraded its profit expectations for the first half of the 2023 financial year, citing strong post-pandemic travel demand.

The company, which only earlier this month was labelled Australia’s most disappointing, said on Wednesday it was expecting a net profit before tax of $1.35 to $1.45 billion in the first half of the 2023 financial year – a $150 million increase to the profit range from early October.

The growing profit expectations were made despite the extraordinary cost of fuel, which Qantas said was expected to hit $5 billion in the next financial year.

The company said that would be a record high, despite the airline’s international capacity remaining around 30 per cent below its pre-Covid level.

Qantas also said it expects net debt to fall to an estimated $2.3 billion.

“Consumers continue to put a high priority on travel ahead of other spending categories and there are signs that limits on international capacity are driving more domestic leisure demand, benefiting Australian tourism,” the company said.

Last month, the company said strong travel demand was accelerating Qantas’ recovery from Covid, and announced a $200 million investment in the airline’s “operational resilience” such the rostering of new crew and training new staff.

The news represents a welcome turnaround in public relations for the company, after Choice labelled it the country’s worst company in its annual “Shonky” award.

On Tuesday, The Australian reported Qantas’ cancellation rate had fallen in October to 1.2 per cent, a better performance than rivals Virgin Australia, which binned 3.6 per cent of flights.

Despite Qantas’ strong results, the cost of flying continues to soar above pre-pandemic levels.

A one-way Sydney to Melbourne Qantas flight this week is currently going for around $647, while a one-way Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth costs $859, according to Flight Centre.

Qantas has been contacted by NCA NewsWire for comment.

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