Christmas holiday warning for Jetstar passengers
Jetstar's boss has cast the airline's striking staff as Grinches threatening to steal Christmas holidays from thousands of travellers.
But the budget airline's CEO Gareth Evans has vowed he will not bow to unions' "unsustainable" requests, despite a pilot strike which forced Jetstar to cancel more than 100 domestic flights over the weekend, leaving passengers fuming.
Pilots and ground crews walked off the job demanding better pay and work conditions but Mr Evans has slammed the industrial campaign as "completely unjustifiable and cynically timed to hurt travellers at the busiest time of year".
While pilots have guaranteed they would not strike between December 21 and January 3, holiday travel may still be impacted by ground staff and baggage handlers, who have not promised to avoid impacting Christmas.
Further strike action is expected on December 19.
The Transport Workers' Union, which represents ground staff, has asked for annual wage increase of 4 per cent, more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts and minimum 30-hour working weeks.
Pilots are seeking a 3 per cent pay rise, as well as changes to rostering to manage fatigue.
Mr Evans claimed this amounted to a 15 per cent cost hike in the first year alone, and would put pressure on the airline's low fares.
"We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our people do every day, but not at any cost," he said.
Union officials insist it's the conditions at Jetstar that are "unsustainable" and yesterday renewed their appeal the airline at least "come to the table" and negotiate.
Passengers affected by the weekend strike were offered refunds, while those with travel plans in the next four days can proactively cancel their flight for their money back.
A Jetstar spokesman said the airline was "working around the clock" to minimise any disruption.
TWU officials have claimed ground crew workers, who earn an average of $70,000 a year, are struggling because they aren't guaranteed a set amount of hours each week. Unions started negotiations with Jetstar about six months ago, but talks have broken down so badly it has put travel bookings at risk.
Hunter Valley couple Alex Walkling, 22, and Jessica Worboys, 21, were driving to Sydney airport when they received a text from Jetstar to say their flight to Hobart had been cancelled just hours before it was due to depart.
"We were halfway down the freeway when we got the text and it was a bit of a shock," Ms Worboys said.
Jetstar gave them a new flight, via Melbourne, but Ms Worboys said the delay had impacted their accommodation and car rental bookings.