Australia's Qantas offers redundancies to cabin crew

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's Qantas Airways <QAN.AX> said it expects to cut around 350 of its cabin crew jobs, or 5 percent of total, under a voluntary redundancy program as the airline seeks to reduce costs to offset higher fuel prices.

Qantas said on Friday it had sought expressions of interest from all its 7,000 of its cabin crew for voluntary redundancy.

"Qantas still faces considerable challenges including high jet fuel costs in our international business and this voluntary redundancy is part of a number of measures that we are implementing to address these challenges," Qantas said in a statement.

Qantas, which cut 150 cabin crew jobs in 2008 following a voluntary redundancy program, said there would be no forced job losses.

Qantas shares closed 2.9 percent lower at A$2.03 on Friday, the lowest close since July 2009.

The airline in March announced plans to cut its domestic capacity growth in the second half of the current financial year to 8 percent from 14 percent and international capacity growth to 7 percent from 10 percent.

The airline has been raising fuel surcharges as it battles high oil prices and disruptions to some services from natural disasters, including the Japan tsunami and earthquake.

In April, Chief Executive Alan Joyce said Qantas would spend A$3.7 billion ($3.95 billion) on fuel in the fiscal year ending June 30. He added next year's fuel bill could be hundreds of millions of dollars more, if high jet fuel prices persist.

($1 = 0.937 Australian Dollars)

(Reporting by Michael Smith and Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Ed Davies)