While Crikey awaits clarification from Qantas about accounting for $104 million compensation from Airbus for late planes, we hear the A380 problem also has a bunch of expensive pilots seriously under-utilised.

The extensive process of training senior pilots for the A380 means Qantas had boosted the number of Biggles in thwarted anticipation. Those pilots are now in something of a holding pattern, with not enough flying time to go round in existing aircraft to keep them all happy – and as in touch with their skills as much as they would like. The system means the priorities given to senior pilots puts pressure on the middle-order in particular.

There is an international shortage of experienced flyboys at present while the last thing cost-conscious Qantas wants is the expensive of pilots of fat six-figure salaries doing little.

What’s worse is that many of these chaps actually like flying and are thus prey to being poached during the hiatus. Emirates, for example, is rumoured to be offering substantially more cash – tax-free as well – and rich fringe benefits including foreign schooling for children to compensate for being based in Dubai. Dragon Air – now part of Cathay – also is hunting.

The danger for the Roo is that by the time the A380s eventually arrive, some of the pilots might have flown.