Nearly 100 Jetstar Flights Cancelled Due To 'Unjustifiable' Pilot Strike
Around 12 percent of Jetstar flights will be cancelled this weekend, as the airline's pilots go on strike over pay and conditions.
The budget carrier will cancel 44 flights on Saturday and 46 on Sunday, as well as consolidating some services and adding extra Qantas flights, after some pilots voted to take four-hour stop work periods this weekend.
The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) had asked for three percent annual wage increases and better roster conditions for its Jetstar members, who make up some 80 percent of the airline's pilots. The demands have been rejected by Jetstar, with the carrier claiming it would effectively represent a 15 percent wage increase, and lead to ticket price spikes.
Jetstar's CEO claimed the strike action was "unjustifiable".
Friday will also see unrelated industrial action from baggage handlers and ground staff, who are embroiled in a dispute of their own with Jetstar management.
On Thursday, Jetstar announced it had worked "around the clock" to plug gaps left by the strike this weekend.
"To minimise the impact on customers by the four-hour stop work periods, we are consolidating some services, up-gauging aircraft, re-timing flights and Qantas and QantasLink will operate a number of supplementary services," Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans said in a statement.
"We expect to get 95 per cent of our customers on their way on the same day."
Customers on the affected flights will be placed on alternative flights, or can request a refund. The airline said 80 percent of flights would not be affected, and claimed 95 percent of customers would be "on their way on the same day".
Jetstar said impact on international flights will be minimal, warning of only limited delays and cancellations. The airline said its Japan, Asia and Pacific carriers are not affected by the industrial action.
For more information, see Jetstar's travel alerts page.
"The Australian Federation of Air Pilots’ (AFAP) work stoppages this weekend are completely unjustifiable and cynically timed to hurt travellers at the busiest travel time of the year," Evans claimed.
He said that accepting the union's demands would cause "significant upward pressure on the low fares our customers rely on".
AFAP executive director Simon Lutton said the union's members would not strike over the Christmas and New Year period.
“We are hoping to resume discussions with the company to reach an agreement so that no further action needs to be taken after this period," he said.
“The AFAP is still committed to reaching an agreement and is disappointed that we have had to take this action."
The weekend strike action from pilots comes in addition to Jetstar's ongoing industrial dispute between baggage handlers and ground crew. Some 250 of those workers across the country will hold two-hour stop work meetings on Friday, which will also affect some flights.
The Transport Workers Union claimed the airline had rejected "basic demands" from workers for better conditions, saying wages at Jetstar "are among the lowest rates in the industry".
The union had asked Jetstar to consider boosting conditions including more rest breaks, a 12-hour break between shifts, a guaranteed 30 hours of work per week, and wage increases of four percent.