No progress on pilots’ dispute with Qantas Group

Network Aviation and QantasLink pilots in WA will take more action over stalled wage talks.

Network Aviation and QantasLink pilots in WA will take more action over stalled wage talks. Photo: QantasLink

Qantas Group and a union are blaming each other for a deadlock in wage negotiations for regional pilots, amid a series of strikes.

More than 200 Network Aviation and QantasLink pilots in Western Australia walked off the job for six days on Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights.

It’s the third time Network Aviation pilots have taken industrial action over the pay dispute in recent months, disrupting travel for thousands of fly-in, fly-out workers and regional airline passengers.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots says the airline is refusing to negotiate and has taken previously agreed terms off the bargaining table.

It also said Network Aviation pilots are treated as second-class citizens by Qantas Group and don’t get the same pay conditions as other pilots employed by the airline despite doing the same job.

At a meeting on Friday pilots voted for another 24-hour stopwork action for Thursday, February 22.

Qantas on Friday said the federation has got it wrong.

“It is completely disingenuous to say Network Aviation has walked away from negotiations,” a spokeswoman said.

“We have been actively negotiating with the pilots’ union for 18 months.”

The airline said it had made three pay deal offers and two of them were supported by the union but voted down by the pilot group.

“Unfortunately, we are now at an impasse in negotiations,” the spokeswoman said.

Qantas Group also rebutted assertions that Network Aviation pilots were paid less for the same work as other Qantas Group pilots.

It said Network Aviation pilots fly significantly less than other Qantas Group pilots because a lot of their work is Monday to Friday mining-industry charter work.

“The offer we made provides significant pay increases while reflecting the different type of flying that Network Aviation pilots do,” the spokeswoman said.

The current strike forced the airline to cancel about 25 flights on Wednesday and Thursday, prompting mining companies to use other carriers and restrict travel for their workers.

The impact on travellers was much less on Friday, with only nine flights cancelled and 97 per cent of passengers expected to be rescheduled onto other services on the same day.

Most weekend flights are also set to be unaffected, with only three cancelled and all passengers rebooked to travel on the same day as their original flight.

Network Aviation has applied to the Fair Work Commission for a hearing to determine whether the parties have reached a stage where an outcome cannot be negotiated.

It’s the first step in a process in the airline’s bid to break the deadlock that could see the wages arbiter determine a new agreement for the pilots.

The union has previously said it wants to resume negotiations with the airline.

Federation representatives are meeting with the pilots on Friday to discuss their next move.

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

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


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