Qantas is seeking an air operator certificate in Malaysia and working on the launch of  an off shore ‘quality business airline’ based in Asia according to the Australian and International Pilots Association.

The union refers to both ‘rumors’ in an email it sent to members tonight advising them of an ultimatum it issued to Qantas concerning its failure to negotiate over job security, as in the transfer of jets and jobs to countries from which it can fly into and out of Australia using non-Australian labor arrangements similar to those it now uses on Jetstar Australia A330s based in Singapore, or the Jetconnect 737s based in Auckland which are painted in Qantas livery including the ‘Spirit of Australia’ tag line.

This is the email:

Today the Long Haul EA negotiating team has informed me that negotiations with representatives of Qantas management regarding AIPA and its members’ claims, and more specifically the claims relating to the security of our employment, have stalled.

Qantas has had our claims since the end of October 2010 and in the past nine months, despite minor changes, the material effect of these claims has remained the same throughout. Qantas management has simply refused to genuinely negotiate and have regard to our concerns.

As a result AIPA, on behalf of its members, has given Qantas management a deadline of close of business next Thursday, 19 May 2011, to show to AIPA’s satisfaction that Qantas is genuinely attempting to reach agreement on these critical issues. The deadline was set as directed by the AIPA Committee of Management and in recognition of the overwhelming pressures from our membership to get a response from Qantas.

AIPA and its members have done our best to progress our claims through negotiations and, regardless of further action, AIPA is prepared to continue to do so. Having said this, Qantas has left AIPA and its members with no alternative but to file for a Protected Industrial Action (PIA) ballot, should the deadline not be met.

Qantas has shown little regard for our members’ concerns relating to security of employment. In fact, in discussions with Qantas, they have deliberately left the door open to seek alternative crewing arrangements for Qantas aircraft, a situation which is clearly unacceptable to our members.

With this in mind, information has come to the attention of AIPA which purportedly indicates a deliberate intention of Qantas to outsource and offshore the crewing arrangements of Qantas aircraft (this is in addition to the current Jetconnect operations). These rumors include, but are not limited to:

1.     Qantas applied for an AOC (Aircraft Operator’s Certificate) in Malaysia;

2.     Qantas applied for 5,000 seats per week out of Fiji;

3.     Project Dragon, now apparently Project Darwin – headed by Lesley Grant – purportedly investigating the possibility of establishing a new ‘premier’ airline based in South East Asia (see today’s article in The Australian – Qantas Eyes Asia); and

4.     Management is planning to establish a contract company for the purposes of crewing all Qantas and Jetstar B787s.

If one considers these rumours, combined with Qantas’ attitude outlined above, it leaves AIPA and its members with no alternative but to assume the worst.

Make no mistake – regardless of your position in this airline, your career is under serious threat.

We will, as usual, keep you informed of developments.

Regards,

Barry Jackson
AIPA President

Plane Talking has heard the same rumors. Queries to Qantas have not been answered nor more importantly denied.

However Qantas does regard the establishment of Jetstar trans border franchises in New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam to have been successful, as it does the full service Jetconnect operation which is branded as being Qantas, even though the airline can never decide whether to officially refer to its as a Qantas operation or a completely independent 100 per cent owned that, despite the paint job, is not really a Qantas airline.

In fact Jetstar will expand its presence in the NZ domestic market tomorrow by announcing Auckland-Dunedin flights , and is set to operate a fleet of nine A320s in that market by the end of the year.

In terms of possible court approved industrial action by the pilots there is no certainty as to how long that would take to launch if Qantas rejects the ultimatum that expires next Thursday. It could be a matter of days, or it could take weeks or even months depending on the approvals required from Fair Work Australia as well as the holding of a ballot of members, and whether or not Qantas exercises its right to appeal against any decision to approve protected industrial action.

In the concurrent dispute between Qantas and the engineer members of the ALAEA or Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers of Australia, discussions are reported to have broken down today, with stop work meetings being conducted tomorrow Friday and more action planned to take place next week.

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