Leading airline Qantas (ASX: QAN) has responded to a report that claims Australian intelligence agencies believe the company has been "infiltrated" by bikies and organised crime groups, calling the allegations "disturbing".
Published by the Sydney Morning Herald overnight, the report says a classified intelligence operation determined up to 150 Qantas staff are linked to criminality, with some employees enabling the import of narcotics into Australia.
In a statement Qantas Group chief security officer Luke Bramah says the company was unaware of any report suggesting staff were involved in organised crime.
"We have not been advised of any current investigations of Qantas Group employees involved in organised crime. If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action," says Bramah.
"To be clear, none of Australia's law enforcement agencies have told us of the existence of a report that suggests there are potentially 150 Qantas employees who have connections to organised crime. Nor have they raised concerns with us about our vetting or background checking processes.
"We've written to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AFP, Border Force and Aviation and Maritime Security seeking details of the report."
The Qantas executive said if any concerns were raised with the airline ahead of the SMH's report they would have been acted upon, as has happened in the past which led to employees being terminated.
"Qantas is the only commercial airline that holds a Trusted Trader accreditation with Australian Border Force which means every single employee connected to international air freight must pass a fit and proper test. We've not been advised by Border Force of any of our employees failing this test," Bramah said.
"While Australia does have world-leading aviation security, of course more can be done to help reduce the risk of people working in the industry trying to take advantage of their position to commit crimes such as drug smuggling.
"There are multiple checks and balances in place already that we know work, but we have been strong supporters of introducing intelligence checks for all ASIC holders. We're pleased that the Federal Government is working to get this through Parliament."
The allegations come just weeks after the airline announced improved conditions in the local aviation sector would not be enough to prevent a $2 billion loss before tax in FY21.
As part of its cost-cutting drive the group also announced a two-year wage freeze, and from July 2022 the airline said it would cut front-end commissions paid to travel agents on international tickets from 5 per cent to 1 per cent.
The expected loss compares to a statutory loss after tax of $1.9 billion in FY20, and is fuelled by significant costs relating to previously announced redundancies, aircraft write-downs and non-cash depreciation charges.
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