Page last updated at 07:55 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 08:55 UK

Airline Qantas to cut 1,500 jobs

Qantas jets
Qantas is being squeezed by the rising cost of fuel

Australian airline Qantas has said it is cutting 1,500 jobs from its global workforce of 36,000 as it seeks to cope with soaring fuel costs.

The carrier said its fuel bill was set to rise by 2bn Australian dollars ($1.9bn; 970m) in 2008-09.

Qantas has already raised fares and cut capacity this year, and the airline's boss said he could not guarantee that there would be no further job losses.

Of the 1,500 job cuts, 1,300 will go in Australia with the rest overseas.

The carrier said it had cut its plans for capacity growth in 2008-09 from 8% to zero, and it was also scrapping plans to hire a further 1,200 staff.

Rising costs

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon said conditions in the global aviation industry were "as tough as I've seen it".

"It's not just aviation being hurt by oil prices, it's other things such as food," he added.

Mr Dixon said most of the job cuts would go in "non-operational areas".

"Over 20% of our management and head office support jobs will be cut," he said.

The cutbacks will also see the closure of call centres in Tucson, Arizona and London.

Qantas is by no means alone in struggling with higher fuel bills. According to a report by employment consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, US airlines have cut more than 20,000 jobs this year.

And the International Air Transport Association has warned that the world's airlines could record total losses of more than $6bn this year if fuel costs remain at their current levels.

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