Jetstar cancels more than 100 flights as it braces for strikes
Jetstar has cancelled 108 flights between Friday and Sunday in preparation for pilots and ground staff to walk off the job.
The budget airline says 80 per cent of flights will operate as scheduled on the weekend, with passengers accommodated through rescheduling, consolidating some flights, moving services onto larger aircraft, and putting passengers on Qantas flights.
About 5 per cent of passengers will not be able to depart for their destination on the scheduled day, and customers were being notified on Wednesday of any changes to their bookings, the airline said.
Australian Federation of Air Pilots members, who make up around 80 per cent of Jetstar’s mainline pilots, will walk off the job for four hours on Saturday and Sunday amid stalled wage negotiations.
Jetstar boss Gareth Evans said 44 flights would be cancelled on Saturday and 46 on Sunday. The airline operates about 370 domestic and international flights a day.
“We know the union’s actions are creating uncertainty for travellers,” Mr Evans said.
“We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our people do every day, but not at any cost.”
On top of the dispute with pilots, 250 Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew will hold two two-hour stop-work meetings at various times on Friday at Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports, prompting 18 flight cancellations.
Mr Evans said Jetstar captains earned more than $300,000 a year on average, including superannuation and allowances, and pilots’ demand for an agreement that equated to a 15 per cent pay rise through salaries and allowances would hamper the airline’s ability to sell cheap airfares and invest in its future.
However the union says it has only asked for a 3 per cent wage rise, with the 15 per cent figures based on a exaggerated costing of non-salary claims.
Mr Evans said Jetstar had cancelled a meeting with the union on Monday after it gave notice it intended to strike, and the airline would only return to the negotiating table if pilots signalled they would consider an agreement that kept wage growth to 3 per cent.
“We want to reach an agreement, but there’s no point in us wasting our time just banging heads if it’s not going to make progress,” Mr Evans said.
“Otherwise, the focus of the business during this time of action should be on managing our operation and minimising the disruption to our customers.”
This weekend will be the first time Jetstar pilots have taken protected industrial action since the airline was founded 15 years ago, and it comes as industrial tension across the Qantas group rises to its highest level since Alan Joyce’s grounding of the Qantas fleet in 2011.
The pilots’ union has said it will not take any industrial action between December 20 and January 3, with the potential to resume strikes after that. Pilots have voted to approve action, including stop-works, of up to 24 hours.
Union pilots who fly Jetstar’s narrow-body aircraft, which are mostly used on domestic routes, will not operate flights out of their home base between 5am to 9am on Saturday December 14 and Sunday December 15.
International pilots will not operate Boeing 787 Dreamliners from their home base between 2.30pm to 6.30pm on Saturday or between 9.30am and 1.30pm on Sunday.
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