Qantas to axe 1,000 jobs and launch two new airlines

The Australian airline Qantas is to cut up to 1,000 jobs as part of a major shake-up of its international business that will include the launch of a new Asia-based airline.

The Australian flag carrier, which is struggling to offset losses from its international operations, will buy between 106 and 110 Airbus A320 aircraft, and retire older planes as part of the five-year plan. It will also defer the delivery of six Airbus A380 superjumbo planes for up to six years.

Qantas International has forecast a loss of A$200m (£127m) for 2011 due to stiff competition and costs that it says are 20 per cent higher than its key competitors.

Under the plan, Qantas will invest in a new premium airline in Asia that will operate under a different name. It will also launch a budget airline in Japan to be called Jetstar Japan in partnership with Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi.

Unions immediately condemned the move, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions accusing the airline of showing "blatant contempt for its loyal work force".

"This is one of the darkest days in the history of Qantas," ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said.

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