Michael Pascoe writes:

Coming soon to a plane near you: pilots and
stewards who look like Qantas employees, dress like Qantas employees, fly
planes in Qantas livery, but are paid below Qantas rates and don’t quite work
for Qantas.

An
interesting little kicker in this morning’s announcement of the demise of Australian Airlines is that, while the brand has been put down,
Australian Airlines staff will continue to be Australian Airlines staff but do
Qantas work:

Mr Dixon said Australian Airlines staff
would operate services under the Qantas brand (This is called a wet lease
operation in the aviation industry.)

“From a customer perspective, these flights
will be like all other Qantas international services. They will have Qantas
flight numbers, aircraft will be branded in Qantas livery and crew in Qantas
uniforms will provide Qantas inflight product,” he said.

The Australian Airlines staff no doubt are
glad to be keeping their jobs – Qantas says just 40 cabin crew numbers will go
over time without forced redundancies – but one wonders how Qantas crew will
feel about this wet leasing and the precedent that it sets. What potential is
there for Qantas to wet lease, say, Jetstar crews and planes for a few Qantas
routes somewhere down the track?

Jetstar’s value to Qantas has been in its ability
to cut operating costs. Those pilots getting $80K a year less than their Qantas
cousins doing the same job are just one example. It’s hard to imagine how
Qantas can continue to meet its ambitious cost reduction targets without plenty
more.

Peter Fray

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