Workers stranded as Qantas subsidiary pilots walk-off

Numerous fly in, fly out mine workers have been affected by the strike at Network Aviation.

Numerous fly in, fly out mine workers have been affected by the strike at Network Aviation. Photo: AAP

Thousands of regional airline passengers and fly in, fly out workers have had their flights disrupted after pilots working for a Qantas subsidiary walked off the job.

Qantas Group was forced to re-book travellers onto Jetstar, Qantas and charter flights on Thursday after Network Aviation cancelled 35 flights due to the protected 24-hour strike over stalled wage negotiations.

The affected travellers were offered a range of options, including a rescheduled flight, a refund or a credit.

About 95 per cent of regular customers and about 70 per cent of charter customers would take to the air on Thursday, the airline said.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots said its members working for Network Aviation and QantasLink in Western Australia voted to stop work.

“We apologise for the disruptions this action will cause to the travelling public in WA, along with FIFO mining staff and other workers reliant on Network and QantasLink flights scheduled,” senior industrial officer Chris Aikens said on Monday.

The pilot group has been negotiating an enterprise agreement with Qantas to replace its previous pay deal, which expired in 2020.

“The AFAP has been genuinely negotiating and trying to reach an agreement with Qantas management but the company remains unwilling to revisit its inflexible wages policy,” Aikens said.

Network Aviation said was disappointing the pilots’ union had chosen to take industrial action and disrupt flights and travellers.

“We know that this disruption is frustrating for customers and we appreciate everyone’s patience,” chief operating officer Trevor Worgan said on Wednesday.

The airline said the pilots had previously been offered and rejected pay increases of more than 25 per cent plus yearly 3 per cent increases, new allowances and greater roster protections.

It said it made an intractable bargaining application to the Fair Work Commission on Monday to help establish a new enterprise agreement with its pilots to break the deadlock.

“We’ve been working to reach a new agreement with our pilots for 18 months and have offered significant pay increases and other benefits,” Worgan said.

“Unfortunately given the impasse, we have been left with no other option but to seek arbitration in the Fair Work Commission.”

Network Aviation pilots also 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 per cent of its 200-plus pilots are members of the pilots federation.


Topics: Qantas
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