Jetstar to cancel 90 weekend flights due to strikes

December 11, 2019
Jetstar Christmas
Jetstar and Tiger aircraft at Sydney Airport. Photo: Steve Creedy

Jetstar plans to cancel 90 services over the weekend as part of a strike-busting contingency plan it estimates will get 95 percent of its passengers to their destinations on the same day.

The low-cost carrier will cancel 44 services on Saturday, December 14 and 46 services on Sunday as pilots belonging to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP)  undertake four-hour work stoppages.

It will also cancel 18 flights on Friday due to separate action by ground workers.

It says it normally operates about 370 flights a day on average.

READ: Jetstar Christmas disurptions unlikely despite strike votes.

“The Australian Federation of Air Pilots’ work stoppages this weekend are completely unjustifiable and cynically timed to hurt travelers at the busiest travel time of the year,’’ Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said in a statement.

“To protect the weekend plans of tens of thousands of customers, teams across Jetstar have worked around the clock to develop a proactive contingency plan.

“To minimize the impact on customers by the four-hour stop-work periods, we are consolidating some services, upgauging aircraft, re-timing flights and Qantas and QantasLink will operate a number of supplementary services.”

Jetstar is contacting customers affected by the changes and is also offering full refunds prior to flying to those scheduled to travel between December 13 and December 20.

“We know the union’s actions are creating uncertainty for travelers, but if we accept an effective 15 percent net increase in pay that the union is demanding, there will be significant upward pressure on the low fares our customers rely on and we will be forced to review our investment in new aircraft and new destinations,’’ Evans said.

“We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our people do every day, but not at any cost. Strong arm action from the AFAP will not change our position on this.

“Again, we say to the union: come to the table with a reasonable offer that is fair, and which also ensures the future of low fares travel for Australians.“

The weekend stoppages will be followed by lower-level work bans next week but the AFAP has promised not to take action over the busy Christmas period from December 21 to January 3.

It is not yet clear what impact the lower-level bans will have.

The pilots voted to take protected industrial action after negotiations over 12 months saw management unwilling to shift on pay and condition claims.

The pilots are upset they are the lowest-paid jet flight crews in Australia and the union says they are tired of not being valued as highly as their peers.

The AFAP disputes Jetstar’s claim it is seeking an effective 15 percent wage increase and argues the figure is based on inaccurate and flawed costings of non-salary claims.

It says it is seeking 3 percent annual wage rises.

The company counters with an assertion that just two of the union’s allowance claims would see the highest-paid pilots receiving an additional $A60,000 a year.

Jetstar is also facing industrial action at a number of airports on friday from ground crew represented by the Transport Workers’ Union over claims of low pay and insufficient work hours.

This is the action that is expected to result in 18 cancellations

The airline says about a third of its ground crew are full-time, earning on average above $A90,000 per year, while those working part-time earn on average $A63,000 a year.