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Low-Cost Australian Airline Jetstar Accused of Exaggerating Pilot Wages as Industrial Action Continues

Low-Cost Australian Airline Jetstar Accused of Exaggerating Pilot Wages as Industrial Action Continues

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Story Highlights
  • Jetstar claims senior pilots earn more than A$300,000 a year
  • The airline is proactively cancelling 10% of flights in January in case of further strikes
  • Pilots union claims Jetstar is exaggerating pilot wages
  • Calls for Jetstar to come back to the negotiating table to resolve dispute

The chief executive of Australian low-cost airline Jetstar has told travellers to expect delays and cancellations throughout January as the carrier prepares for further pilot strike action in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.  Yet Jetstar CEO, Gareth Evans isn’t reacting to any planned walkouts but instead axing 10 per cent of the airline’s schedule just in case the Australian Federation of Air Pilots calls another strike.

Evans claims the drastic decision will cost the airline at least A$25 million but that it at least proves “how serious we are about not giving in to unsustainable demands.”  The pilots union has been demanding a 3 per cent pay rise to bring its members wages in line with other Australian carriers like Virgin Australia and Jetstar’s parent company, Qantas.

Photo Credit: Jetstar

In addition, AFAP wants an improvement in work conditions and an end to “fatiguing rostering practices” that the airline has allegedly refused to address.  Jetstar claims the total cost of those improvements would, in real terms, result in a 15 per cent pay rise – A proposal that Evans calls both “unrealistic and unsustainable”.

“… we can’t agree to the unions’ demands,” Evans said yesterday.  “It would undermine our entire business model and our ability to offer low fares to the 38 million customers who travel with us each year – two-thirds of whom pay less than $100 for their ticket.”

Suggesting that Jetstar’s pilot workforce are already paid enough, Evans claimed that Captains make more than A$300,000 (USD$205,000) a year – in comparison, senior pilots at major U.S.-based airlines can expect to earn in excess of USD$220,000 a year.

Evans also claimed some pilots could expect to see their wages jump by as much as $60,000 a year – more than the 15 per cent hike Jetstar is refusing to budge over.

“The AFAP and Jetstar pilots are frustrated by Jetstar continually inventing figures to suit themselves,” countered AFAP Executive Director Simon Lutton.

“…claiming Jetstar Captains earn more than $300,000, Jetstar’s assertions that we are seeking a 15% wage increase are simply untrue,” he continued.  “Put simply, Jetstar has manufactured the alleged 15% increase based on inaccurate and flawed costings of our non-salary claims, such as those claims relating to rostering and fatigue mitigation.”

AFAP has guaranteed that no further walkouts will take place over Christmas or the New Year but hasn’t ruled out calling more strikes in January.  However, Lutton claims Jetstar has refused to meet with the union’s negotiators since November and no talks are yet planned.

A range of lower-level work bans like refusing to take calls from crew scheduling outside of work hours are still in place and will end on Friday.

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