Aviation

Qantas eyes interstate move for Sydney headquarters

The Qantas Group is reviewing the location of its key facilities as part of its recovery plan and efforts to cut overheads, which may result in bringing together several facilities currently spread across Australia in one state.

The review will focus chiefly on non-aviation facilities, including the national carrier’s leased 49,000-square-metre head office in Mascot (Sydney) and Jetstar’s leased head office in Collingwood (Melbourne).

In announcing the potential move, the Qantas Group said some aviation facilities will be considered for possible relocation, such as flight simulator centres currently in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as Qantas’ heavy maintenance facilities in Brisbane, “particularly if there was an opportunity to bring some or all of these facilities together elsewhere within Australia”.

The company noted that there was no intention to move facilities offshore as a result of the review, and it is not expected to have any impact on customers.

Rather, the review flows on from previously announced job losses already announced (about 25 per cent of which were corporate and head office employees), the need for increased efficiencies and setting the group up for the future, according to the Qantas Group.

Vanessa Hudson, chief financial officer at the Qantas Group, said: “Like most airlines, the ongoing impact of COVID means we’ll 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.

“As well as simply rightsizing 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.

“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.”

Hudson added that the new Western Sydney Airport will be part of the company’s thinking, given the opportunity that the greenfield project represents.

“This is about setting the Qantas Group up for the long term, as well as recovering from the COVID crisis, and we’re open-minded about the outcome,” she said.

“It’s possible that our HQ stays where it is, but becomes a lot smaller, and other facilities consolidate elsewhere. Or, we could wind up with a single, all-purpose campus that brings together many different parts of the group. 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.”

To assist with the first phase of consolidation, Colliers International has been appointed to sublease about 25,000 square metres of surplus office space across Mascot, Melbourne CBD and Hobart.

A lease on a 230-square-metre Sydney CBD office that is due to expire in October will not be renewed.

The review is expected to take three months to determine preferred options. The Qantas Group said any relocations are likely to be staggered over time – potentially years – dependent on what options are taken up.

To jog your memory, here’s a short history of the Qantas Group’s office moves:

1920 – Winton, Queensland

1921 – Longreach, Queensland

1930 – Brisbane, Queensland (various locations including the Wool Exchange Building)

1938 – Sydney CBD (Shell House, near Wynyard Station, which became part of the Menzies Hotel)

1957 – Sydney CBD (Qantas House, 1 Chifley Square)

1982 – Sydney CBD (Qantas International Centre, now Suncorp Place, on Grosvenor and Lang Streets)

1990s – Gradual shift over several years to current offices at Mascot, Sydney (this included relocation of Australian Airlines from Melbourne to Sydney after the merger with Qantas in 1993)

2004 – Jetstar relocates from Sydney to Melbourne

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