Tuesday 26 November 2019

Jetstar's pilots to strike over Christmas

Australians planning to fly home for Christmas could see their plans disrupted as Jetstar pilots threaten to strike in mid-December.

JETSTAR B787-8 VH-VKA (CN 36227)         File Photo

You know its Christmas when airlines threaten to strike… if you are flying this Christmas and your thinking Jetstar, I would seriously reconsider.

Budget airline Jetstar could face disruptions over the busy Christmas period after pay negotiations with its pilots broke down. The Australian Federation of Air Pilots said last week it had applied to the Fair Work Commission to hold a vote among Jetstar pilots on taking protected industrial action. The proposed actions range from general work-to-rule (pilots not working outside of their rostered hours) to work stoppages of up to 24 hours, AFAP said. Jetstar is able to object to some forms of action with Fair Work today, before pilots vote on them. Jetstar and the union are at loggerheads over pay, with the airline saying it has proposed a 3 per cent annual wage rise but that the union wants a deal that would increase "pilot costs" by 15 per cent AFAP executive director Simon Lutton said the union was taking the step because its members were disappointed negotiations with Jetstar over a new enterprise agreement had stalled. “As negotiating with the company in good faith has got them nowhere, they have been left with no choice," Mr Lutton said. A Jetstar spokeswoman said it had been in constructive discussions about the new wage deal since January and remained committed to reaching an agreement, "but not at any cost". "There are many complex areas to discuss and working through the AFAP’s numerous claims and their many modifications takes time," she said. Mr Lutton said AFAP members, who make up the majority of Jetstar's pilots, were unhappy with salary and conditions, and concerned about how the airline's rostering practices affected pilot fatigue. Jetstar said captains on its fleet of narrow body jets earned $304,576 on average and first officers earned $184,260 last year, including superannuation and allowances. On larger aircraft which fly international routes, that went up to $323,274 and $234,516. The wage dispute comes at a time when Jetstar and its owner Qantas face pressure from falling demand, particularly among holidaymakers, who are choosing not to travel amid softening economic conditions. Jetstar's unit revenue - an industry figure used to measure passenger traffic - fell 2.6 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

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