According to ABC News, the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce said the payments were recognition of the contribution made by staff as the company recovered from last year's $2.8 billion loss.
Earlier this year, Qantas returned to profit, and it is reportedly expected that the airline will reveal an even stronger full-year result when it releases its numbers shortly before the bonuses are paid in August.
“The rapid turnaround of the Qantas Group has only been made possible through the dedication and hard work of all our people,” Joyce told the ASX in a statement. “Our ability to make these bonus payments reflects a bright future for the Qantas Group, provided we stay focused on delivering the transformation program that has brought us this far.”
Bonuses will be the equivalent of 5% of each recipient’s annual salary, meaning that the average bonus will be just over $3,200.
However, while up to 28,000 employees could be eligible to receive the bonuses, only those who have agreed to the wage freeze will be paid.
Qantas’ offering has been met with backlash from the Transport Workers Union (TWU), who has described the bonus scheme as a “cynical ploy” that could undermine the living standards of those who accept.
“The company has used the money that they've taken off the employees to turn around and take back to them and say they're Father Christmas,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
Sheldon also alleged that the company is gradually replacing its full-time workers with part-time positions.
Sharna Rhys-Jones, a spokeswoman for Qantas, said the vast majority of the airline’s staff are employed on a full-time basis, rejecting the TWU’s claims that staff members are “living below the poverty line”.
Qantas announced last week that it would pay a generous total of $90 million in bonuses to thousands of staff members – but only those who agree to an 18 month wage freeze.