Jetstar cancels 10 percent of January flights

 

After a weekend of cancelled flights and strikes carried out by Jetstar ground staff and pilots across the country, the budget airline has announced more disruptions are still to come throughout January.

Following a chaotic weekend of cancellations, Jetstar says they will be forced to cancel 10 per cent of their flights in the new year.

"Industrial action doesn't change the fact the wage claims being made by the TWU and AFAP are unsustainable," Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans.

"In the case of the pilots, the union is asking for what amounts to a 15 per cent wage increase in the first year in a group where captains earn more than $300,000 a year. For some groups, their salaries would increase by $60,000. We can't agree to that."

Mr Evans said the cost of disruptions and cancellation over December and January will sit between $20 million to $25 million for the airline.

"There's no doubt that industrial action is expensive and frustrating, but we have to hold the line on costs or it threatens the long term sustainability of our business," Mr Evans said.

"We apologise to the customers whose plans have been caught up in what the unions are doing."

The Qantas-owned airline said in response to the strikes, they will also consider selling three of their long-haul aircraft.

The contingency planning has identified three 787-8 aircraft operated by Jetstar that are serving loss making and marginal international routes, with a final decision expected to be made in the first quarter of calendar 2020.

Passengers at Jetstar’s self check-in area at Sydney Domestic Airport on Saturday as the pilot’s strike affected flights around the country. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams.
Passengers at Jetstar’s self check-in area at Sydney Domestic Airport on Saturday as the pilot’s strike affected flights around the country. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots' Jetstar pilots stopped work for four hours on Sunday, resulting in 54 cancelled flights as union staff continued strikes around Australia.

A similar strike on Saturday saw Jetstar proactively cancel more than 40 flights.

Jetstar workers are now planning another strike on Thursday, December 19, just six days before Christmas Day.

The disruption comes after the budget airline refused demands for annual pay increases, minimum job hours and safety improvements.

Jetstar staff were requesting more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts and 30 hour working weeks.

Queues of passengers after their flights were cancelled at Brisbane airport on Friday. Picture: John Gass.
Queues of passengers after their flights were cancelled at Brisbane airport on Friday. Picture: John Gass.

The weekend's pilot strike follows a walk-off by ground crew on Friday at airports around the country.

Jetstar said the strikes were "unjustifiable" and "cynically timed to hurt travellers at the busiest time of the year", AAP reported.

Around 250 Jetstar ground staff and baggage handlers stopped work on Friday during peak departure and arrival periods in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide.

Strikers carried placards with the airline's logo and messages including "Jetstar You're Below the Belt", "I'll Fly when it's Fair" and "Jetstar, Safety is no joke".

The Transport Workers Union said it was not its striking members intention to delay passengers but negotiations had broken down because Jetstar "would not listen" to safety concerns and fair pay arguments.

However, one disgruntled member of the public took to Twitter to describe the strike as "blackmail of the travelling public to get what they want".

According to the Daily Telegraph, while pilots have guaranteed they would not strike between December 21 and January 3, there is concerns holiday travel may still be impacted by ground staff and baggage handlers, who have not promised to avoid impacting Christmas.

The company says customers travelling from December 13 to December 20 can request a full refund prior to flying.

candace.sutton@news.com.au



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