Scott Morrison has flagged ongoing support for aviation after Qantas announced it would sack 6000 workers because of coronavirus.
The ailing airline’s boss Alan Joyce has been in discussions with the prime minister and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over further support packages.
Qantas will also continue to stand down 15,000 workers as it charts a flightpath out of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Morrison said aviation would need continued support with JobKeeper wage subsidies and other coronavirus support measures to end in September.
“We are just working through the best way to target and deliver that support,” he told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
He said JobKeeper or other measures could be used to help the sector in the future.
Mr Morrison praised Qantas for navigating the crisis despite the latest job losses.
Australia’s flag carrier has been hard-hit by the closure of international travel and state border restrictions.
Mr Joyce confirmed he had discussed support measures with Mr Morrison and Mr Frydenberg.
“It does help for them to know the size of the Qantas issue, what we think is going to happen, to inform them on the decision they’re making on JobKeeper and alternatives,” he said.
He defended the decision to sack workers while JobKeeper is under review, saying employees needed clarity.
The Qantas chief has been talking to state governments about reopening borders for domestic travel, which remains heavily curtailed amid restrictions.
He’s also hopeful the border with New Zealand can open before July next year, but understood that would depend on health advice.
“We are very keen for the borders to be open… we will continue to talk to the states.”
Mr Morrison expressed deep regret about the cuts, saying Qantas employees were passionate about the company.
“They understand ultimately that when you can’t put planes in the air you can’t make money,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“I know they will understand that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
ACTU president Michele O’Neil said the announcement proved Qantas had abandoned Australia and its workers in order to preserve profits.
“Scott Morrison must act immediately to extend JobKeeper, deliver a direct and urgent industry assistance package, and convene crisis talks immediately,” she said.
Labor has also called on the government to immediately release the review into JobKeeper, which leader Anthony Albanese said had been received and was being withheld while the Eden-Monaro by-election campaign was under way.