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Qantas Flight Woes Continue as Pilots Push for Pay Increase


Regional airline passengers and fly-in, fly-out workers are in for more disruptions as pilots working for a Qantas subsidiary vote to take more industrial action.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots said on Feb. 9 its members working for Network Aviation and QantasLink in Western Australia (WA) would walk off the job on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 over stalled wage negotiations.

Qantas Group said it was disappointed by the pilots’ decision to strike for a second time in less than a week and passengers’ travel plans would again be disrupted.

“We are reviewing schedules and planning contingencies to make sure our customers can get where they need to go,” a spokeswoman said.

The airline said impacted customers would be contacted and they can make fee-free changes to their flights or request a refund.

Qantas Group was forced to re-book travellers onto Jetstar, Qantas, and charter flights on Feb. 8 after Network Aviation cancelled 35 flights due to a 24-hour pilots’ strike.

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About 95 percent of regular customers and about 70 percent of charter customers were able to take to the air.

The pilots’ federation previously said Network Aviation had “walked away from the negotiating table” and its members were left with no option other than a strike.

A Network Aviation pilot, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the airline’s pilots were angry with the company over its handling of the negotiations.

“The underlying thing for them is the cost factor,” the pilot told AAP.

“They think that we deserve less than other pilots who fly for Qantas.

“I’m working for a company that calls itself the best in the market and it doesn’t value us and I feel cheated.”

The pilots’ union has been attempting to negotiate an enterprise agreement for the pilots with Qantas Group for 18 months to replace their previous pay deal, which expired in 2020.

Network Aviation said the pilots had previously been offered and rejected pay increases of more than 25 percent plus yearly three percent increases, new allowances, and greater roster protections.

The union rejected the claim.

The airline made an intractable bargaining application to the Fair Work Commission on Feb. 5 to help establish a new enterprise agreement with its pilots to break the deadlock.

A meeting between the parties is scheduled for Feb. 9.

Network Aviation pilots walked off the job over pay negotiations for 24 hours in early October, causing more than 40 flights to and from regional towns and mine sites to be cancelled.

The airline, which is wholly owned by Qantas, is WA’s premier charter company for the mining industry and operates hundreds of flights a week.

It also employs local pilots for the carrier’s regional arm QantasLink.

More than 90 percent of its 250-plus pilots are members of the pilots federation.



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