A Qantas 737 commercial passenger jet in Far North Queensland. Picture: Brendan Radke
A Qantas 737 commercial passenger jet in Far North Queensland. Picture: Brendan Radke

800 JOBS: Coast launches bold bid to land Qantas

A major play to relocate national carrier Qantas to the Sunshine Coast is underway.

Sunshine Coast Airport is understood to be in the midst of a bid to bring Qantas operations to the region, with the major airline currently conducting an expression of interest process to review the present location of its operations.

The review is focused mainly on non-aviation operations which included Qantas' 49,000sq m head office in Sydney and Jetstar head office in Melbourne.

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Some aviation services would be considered for relocation, namely flight simulation services and heavy maintenance facilities in Brisbane, particularly if those services could be brought together in the same location.

Sunshine Coast Airport sources confirmed to the Daily the Coast facility was involved in the expression of interest process and was currently in discussions about a possible relocation of Qantas offices to the Coast.

Could Sunshine Coast Airport be the new home of Qantas?
Could Sunshine Coast Airport be the new home of Qantas?

It was unknown whether that would include aviation or heavy maintenance services as well, but the Daily understood if successful it would lead to about 800 Qantas staff being based on the Sunshine Coast.

It was expected to be a combination of new jobs created in the region and existing jobs relocated to the Coast, and an update on the progress of the bid was expected in early-2021.

The Daily understood some State Government support could also be available to entice Qantas to increase its Queensland footprint with a Sunshine Coast relocation.

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Qantas announced in September it had no intention to take its facilities offshore and the review was not expected to impact customers.

The review had been sparked by pandemic-related job losses already announced, about a quarter of which had been corporate and head office staff, and the need for more efficiencies in future.

Qantas Group chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson said the ongoing impact of COVID meant Qantas would be a "much smaller company for a while".

"We're looking right across the organisation for efficiencies, including our $40 million annual spend on leased office space," Ms Hudson said.

Qantas chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone
Qantas chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

"As well as simply right sizing the amount of space we have, there are opportunities to consolidate some facilities and unlock economies of scale.

"For instance, we could co-locate the Qantas and Jetstar head offices in a single place rather than splitting them across Sydney and Melbourne.

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"Most of our activities and facilities are anchored to the airports we fly to, but anything that can reasonably move without impacting our operations or customers is on the table as part of this review.

"We'll also be making the new Western Sydney Airport part of our thinking, given the opportunity this greenfield project represents."

The review was designed to set Qantas Group up long-term, and Ms Hudson said they remained open-minded about the outcome.

The current Qantas maintenance facility at Brisbane Airport. Picture: David Clark
The current Qantas maintenance facility at Brisbane Airport. Picture: David Clark

"It's possible that our HQ stays where it is but becomes a lot smaller, and other facilities consolidate elsewhere," she said.

"Or we could wind up with a single, all-purpose campus that brings together many different parts of the Group.

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"These are all options we need to consider as we look to the future.

"The Qantas Group will remain one of the country's largest employers and a major generator of economic activity, so we're keen to engage with state governments on any potential incentives as part of our decision making."

Wyndham Council in Melbourne's west was also understood to be among the regions vying to become the national carrier's new home