Jetstar has cancelled 10 percent of domestic flights as its pay dispute rages on. Now passengers face more uncertainty.
Jetstar has cancelled 10 percent of domestic flights as its pay dispute rages on. Now passengers face more uncertainty.

What’s next for travellers as Jetstar strike row heats up

Passengers flying Jetstar will be spared industrial action this weekend, unions have confirmed.

The airline has cancelled 10 per cent of its domestic flights this month, following strikes calling for better pay and conditions in the lead up to Christmas.

Further action was expected from Saturday, but spokespeople for the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) told News Corp no plans for strike action in January had been made.

More than 100 flights were cancelled last month after Jetstar ground staff and pilots stopped work. Picture: John Gass
More than 100 flights were cancelled last month after Jetstar ground staff and pilots stopped work. Picture: John Gass

Jetstar has so far refused to back down in the pay negotiation, saying the increase unions are demanding would "undermine our entire business model and our ability to offer low fares to the 38 million customers who travel with us each year".

A moratorium on strike action began in the week before Christmas to allow Australians to easier see their families over the holiday period and was due to lift on January 3.

Strikes rocked holiday-makers in December when more than 100 of the budget airline's flights were cancelled as about 250 baggage handlers and ramp workers walked off the job.

Pilots also stopped work for four hour blocks - a first in Jetstar's 15-year history - in response to breakdowns in enterprise agreement negotiations.

Jetstar has refused to bow to union pressure and claims wage increases would undermine its business model. Picture: Tom Lee
Jetstar has refused to bow to union pressure and claims wage increases would undermine its business model. Picture: Tom Lee

Despite no current plans for strike action, Jetstar has enacted its contingency plan which includes slashing the number of flights and using "third party suppliers" in ground staff roles.

"The holiday period extends well beyond the Christmas-New Year period and their continued threat of action provides ongoing uncertainty for our customers," a Jetstar spokeswoman said.

A travel alert on Jetstar's website states passengers on affected flights have already been contacted by email and will be swapped to same-day flights.

Full refunds will be given to passengers who have been delayed by more than three hours and no longer want to travel with the airline.

Jetstar estimates the financial impact of the December and January travel changes at $20-25 million.

Jetstar staff stopped work in December, throwing flight schedules into chaos. Picture: John Gass
Jetstar staff stopped work in December, throwing flight schedules into chaos. Picture: John Gass

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said workers would discuss the "next course of action" in the coming days, but hoped Jetstar would "begin negotiations on our modest claims".

"We also maintain that it was regrettable that the company cancelled travel plans of thousands of holiday-makers in January despite no announcement on industrial action."

Jetstar has said it is offering three per cent annual wage increases despite the unions wanting to increase "wages and benefits by up to 15 per cent".

AFAP executive director Simon Lutton said Jetstar's claim workers wanted a 15 per cent pay increase was based off inflated figures and said the company had refused to meet with pilots since November.



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