SYDNEY, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Money-losing Australian air carrier Qantas announced Wednesday it will eliminate 5,000 jobs as it moves to slice $2 billion in costs.
Qantas Group said in a statement on its website its strategy for the next three years will be to improve productivity, consolidate its business activities, make fleet and network changes, implement new technology and realize savings through its procurement system.
The air carrier also said it would sell or defer purchase of more than 50 aircraft and reduce its planned capital expenditures by a total of $1 billion in fiscal 2015 and 2016 as it moves to trim its costs through 2017.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said the airline, which has about 33,000 employees, is dealing with some of the toughest market conditions it had ever faced.
"It's clear that the market Qantas operates in has changed, with structural economic shifts exacerbated by an uneven playing field in Australian aviation policy," Joyce said.
"This situation is reflected in the financial result Qantas announces today, [pre-tax] loss of $252 million for the half-year. This is an unacceptable and unsustainable result. Comprehensive action is needed in response."
He noted competitors have ramped up the pressure on Qantas' home turf, increasing their capacity to Australia by 46 percent since 2009.
He said while Qantas has cut costs significantly the past four years, it is "not enough for the circumstances we now face."
"The Australian domestic market has been distorted by current Australian aviation policy, which allows Virgin Australia to be majority-owned by three foreign government-backed airlines -- yet retain access to Australian bilateral flying rights," he said.
"We have been clear with the Australian government about the uneven playing field and the measures we believe could address it. But our focus today is on the immediate steps that Qantas must take."