Pilots at the low-cost subsidiary of Qantas have voted to down tools for the first time in the airline’s 15-year history as an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions rumbles on. Jetstar says it has been forced to proactively cancel around 12 per cent of its scheduled daily flights on the 14th and 15th December because of the four-hour work stoppages which are being orchestrated by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP).
The strike action will affect Jetstar’s short-haul and long-haul operations in different ways. On Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th, pilots of Jetstar’s narrowbody fleet will refuse to fly planes from their home base on domestic routes between the hours of 5am to 9am.
Meanwhile, Jetstar’s 787 Dreamliner pilots on international flights will refuse to fly planes from their home base between 2.30pm to 6.30pm on Saturday and between 9.30am to 1.30pm on Sunday.
As well as the walkouts, Jetstar pilots will also “work to rule” by refusing to answer calls from crew scheduling out of work hours, refusing to extend flying duties beyond existing limits or doing duties outside of the published roster. In addition, pilots will also refuse to work overtime on their days off.
Under the ‘protected industrial action’ rules, the union must provide at least three working days notice of any strike action. The AFAP has not ruled out calling more stoppages but the union, which represents around 80 per cent of Jetstar’s pilots, promised not to hold any further walkouts in the run-up to Christmas or over the busy New Year travel period.
But Gareth Evans, Jetstar’s chief executive said the strikes were “completely unjustifiable” and described them as being “cynically timed to hurt travellers at the busiest travel time of the year.”
“…if we accept an effective 15 per cent net increase in pay that the union is demanding, there will be significant upward pressure on the low fares our customers rely on and we will be forced to review our investment in new aircraft and new destinations,” Evans continued.
He said the airline had made plans to get as many as 95 per cent of passengers to their destination as planned during the strikes. Jetstar will be consolidating some services, re-timing flights and rebooking some passengers onto sister carriers Qantas and QantasLink.
Around 44 flights will be cancelled on Saturday and 46 are set to be axed on Sunday.
“We say to the union: come to the table with a reasonable offer that is fair, and which also ensures the future of low fares travel for Australians,” Evans implored the union.
AFAP says it is ready and willing to meet with Jetstar and that is is “committed to reaching an agreement”. The union also dismisses the 15 per cent figure quoted by Evans and instead claims it is merely asking for a 3 per cent pay rise, along with the retention of existing terms, conditions and perks.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.