Back in May, we reported a major disagreement which had broken out between Australian airline, Qantas and it’s London-based cabin crew who work some of the carriers longest flights. At the time, the union which represents the cabin crew even accused Qantas of “anti-union tactics” in an attempt to “silence legitimate health and safety concerns.”
The dispute arose from what Qantas called a “trip length trial” – essentially, Qantas had shortened the amount of time that cabin crew spent on their layovers away from base. Specifically, on the ultra-long-range London to Perth flight which has a flight time of over 17-hours, cabin crew could expect to enjoy just 24-hours recovering before flying all the way back to London.
On top of that, some cabin crew were even being put on ‘standby’ duties during their layover – just in case a crew member who was due to operate the return flight went sick. Understandably, Qantas staffers complained of exhaustion from working such a long flight with so little rest.
For its part, Qantas claimed cabin crew were simply “transitioning into new flying”. In the past, UK-based crew had been used to flying between London and Dubai – a mere 7-hour flight. The Unite union, however, said Qantas was dismissing concerns of fatigue and was compromising safety in the pursuit of profit.
And now, it would appear that Qantas has decided to backtrack on its controversial rostering experiment. According to sources within the union, Qantas has significantly increased the amount of time crew spend ‘down route’, as well as taking the decision to abolish standby duties away from base.
The Unite union has called the move a “positive step forward” which should address significant concerns of fatigue from operating such long routes. As well as the London-Perth route, London-based crew also regularly operate the 14-hour flight between Heathrow and Singapore.