Australian Services Union NSW/ACT secretary Sally McManus: Canberra Qantas staff still in limbo.

Australian Services Union NSW/ACT secretary Sally McManus: Canberra Qantas staff still in limbo. Photo: Supplied

Qantas workers who applied for voluntary redundancy at Canberra Airport are being held in limbo as the Easter deadline for a decision passes and a union warns of possible compulsory redundancies.

Australian Services Union ACT/NSW secretary Sally McManus said Qantas management had told the union the number of redundancies would be small compared to those at Sydney Airport, although a decision had yet to be reached.

The voluntary redundancies, which were opened on March 6, come as Qantas implements a $2 billion cost-cutting program after announcing plans to cut 5000 jobs at the end of February.

But Ms McManus said the airline had not ruled out introducing compulsory redundancies at Canberra Airport in the coming months.

“We’re waiting to see whether there will be compulsory redundancies at Canberra Airport and if so that is where the big fight will be,” she said.

‘We’re particularly concerned about job losses at Canberra Airport - along with Adelaide and other regional airports - because these airports need more staff and not less.”

A Qantas spokesman said the airline was working with staff, including at Canberra Airport, on the issue.

"Our preference across the organisation has been to look at voluntary redundancy first wherever we can, before moving to other options," he said.

"The changes to staffing levels at airports reflect the fact that customers have largely moved to automatic check in, including the use of electronic bag tags and managing bookings online."

Ms McManus said the completion of a $420 million new terminal had increased the capacity of Canberra Airport and additional stress would be placed upon staff members if compulsory redundancies were introduced.

She said these demands on staff were likely to grow in coming years given the expansion plans of Canberra airport.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said recently he had “absolute confidence that over the next 12 to 24 months we will achieve international flights”.

Canberra Airport announced the construction of a 191-room hotel in partnership with the Vibe Hotel brand in March, which is expected to cost $50 million and cater to travelling business people.

Ms McManus said the redundancy situation was similar for Qantas workers at Sydney Airport although the company was trying to change the loading of its workforce there.

“They have let close to 40 staff go at Sydney Airport on voluntary redundancies but they will be replacing them with part-time staff,” she said.

Ms McManus said the Australian Services Union was expecting to hear whether compulsory redundancies would be required at Canberra Airport within the next couple of weeks.

“I think Qantas would be mad to enforce compulsory redundancies in Canberra – purely because it would be a bad business decision for them based on bad logic,” she said.

“I believe the managers at Canberra Airport don’t want to see compulsory redundancies either.”

Despite redundancies and financial pressure, Qantas delivered one of the best on-time performance of Australian airlines in March, beating Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways.