Qantas to ground more aircraft due to union action
Sydney, 18 October 2011
Qantas will ground a further two wide-body Boeing 767 aircraft on Monday as ongoing industrial action from the Australian Licenced Engineers Association (ALAEA) continues to cause a backlog of maintenance on the Qantas fleet.
The grounding of these two aircraft will see a further 80 domestic flights cancelled over the next month, and the removal of approximately 20,000 seats of capacity. This will mainly impact flights between the eastern states and Perth.
As a direct result of the ongoing ALAEA ban on overtime and work to rule, Qantas has now been forced to ground seven aircraft, cancel around 500 flights and remove approximately 88,000 seats from sale over the next month.
In addition, since union strike action began less than two months ago by the ALAEA and the Transport Workers’ Union more than 60,000 passengers have been directly impacted, with 129 flights cancelled and 321 flights delayed or brought forward.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said the ALAEA was continuing a ban on overtime work which had been in place since September as well as a work to rule, which has caused the backlog of maintenance.
“The ongoing action from the licensed aircraft maintenance engineers’ union means we do not have the manpower to fulfil all of the necessary maintenance on our fleet of aircraft,” Mr Joyce said.
“The industrial action has caused a shortfall of more than 60,000 man hours of maintenance and this is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to ground aircraft.
“If this overtime ban continues, we will be grounding even more aircraft. This is not a safety concern as problems are addressed before planes fly. But it is causing ongoing and unplanned disruption to our customers.
“This is impacting our passengers’ holiday and business travel plans and it is impacting on the tourism industry.”
In addition to the grounding of these two Boeing 767s, Qantas has already grounded four Boeing 737s and a Boeing 767.
The ALAEA has provided Qantas with written notification that it will keep the ban on overtime and the ‘go-slow’ in place until Christmas.
On time performance has slipped from 87 per cent five weeks ago to 75 per cent this week.
Mr Joyce said the union’s claims that these aircraft were already going to be grounded are incorrect and was an attempt to divert attention away from the significant damage the union was doing to Qantas and its passengers.
“These aircraft are flying this week and from Monday they won’t be. When we clear the backlog of maintenance then the aircraft will be put back into service. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
“The union is still demanding significant pay increases and guarantees that old work practices remain in place despite new generation aircraft requiring less maintenance, less often.
"The union is still demanding that Qantas hands over control of parts of the business to union leaders. Until the union drops its unreasonable demands we are not going to get any closer to an agreement.
“We are committed to reaching a negotiated outcome with the three unions we are in a dispute with. We are meeting with the Transport Workers’ Union today, the ALAEA on Thursday and the pilots’ union on 28 October.”
The total cost of the ALAEA’s claim is $165 million - plus $95 million to build a new hangar. Details of the EBA claim from the ALAEA include:
- Around 15 per cent increase in wages and allowances over three years. The remuneration package of the average licensed engineer would be around $170,000 in January 2013 if we agreed to the ALAEA’s claim.
- A guarantee that no changes be made to current work practices including changes which improve productivity or that are in line with developments in modern aircraft technology.
- Introduction of a time serving classification structure where workers receive additional pay increases based on years of service rather than merit or qualifications.
Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5210)