It might be an issue for more airlines in the future, but Qantas is the first to find itself in a rather unusual dilemma. The airline is keen to avoid involuntary layoffs of aircrew, and, by the end of the month, is trying to come up with a plan to avoid such action.

This was announced to Qantas’ pilots directly on 22 June, according to Reuters. If the airline sacked its flight crews in the coming months, it would be a “failure”, stated the CEO of Qantas International, Tino La Spina.

But La Spina stressed that there must be flexibility within the workforce, including early retirements, voluntary layoffs, and a possible pilots’ salary reduction for the Australian operator to avoid flight crew redundancies over the next few months.

Following the announcement by the Australian government, that it may not reopen the country’s borders until 2021, Qantas confirmed that it had cancelled all of its international flights through until late October. The sole exception will be flights to New Zealand since the two nations plan to establish an air bridge over the Tasman Sea.

But in an ironic twist, Australia’s regional flights have never been so popular as Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar, have launched a substantial seat sale campaign. The LCC set new records, according to a press release, while bookings for Qantas’ regional flights have doubled in number.

Part of this rise can also be blamed on the collapse of Virgin Australia earlier in the year, but I wonder if we’re going to see a similar pattern across Europe.

Europe’s regional and LCCs are slowly getting back into the air albeit with a deluge of conflicting cleaning instructions. They are also having to contend with the need to ensuring social distancing measures are adhered to and that passengers wear their masks appropriately during a flight.

Every airline CEO is keeping a wary eye on what everyone else is doing and how they are coping. We’re only in the early stages of getting back to normal, but it’s clear that these new actions will become routine and familiar to anyone who has to fly for work.

While we may find things slightly inconvenient, spare a thought for the air and cabin crews who’ve had to practice and maintain these new procedures on a daily basis while worrying if they’d have a career to return to. A bit of patience will keep us all safe when we fly for work or pleasure over the next few months.

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