More Jetstar flights cut amid pay fights

Stock image.
Stock image.

JETSTAR claims it will have lost $25 million if pay fights with two unions drags into January, with the budget airline planning to cut more flights.

Ground crew represented by the Transport Workers Union and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots started industrial action on Friday and continued over the weekend.

Baggage handlers and ramp workers will take protected industrial action again on Thursday and pilots will do low-level work bans until December 20 and the fight looks likely to spread into January.

The company says proactively reducing its January flight schedules by about 10 per cent will reduce disruption to passengers, who will be able to reschedule flights or get refunds.

Flights hit will mostly be high-frequency routes to enable as much passenger flexibility as possible.

Jetstar says the industrial action into January combined with the December action is costing the company about $20 million to $25 million.

The airline says the pay claims by the TWU and AFAP are “unsustainable”.

“There’s no doubt that industrial action is expensive and frustrating, but we have to hold the line on costs or it threatens the long term sustainability of our business,” Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said in a statement.

“We apologise to the customers whose plans have been caught up in what the unions are doing.”

Amid the pay stoush, Jetstar also say it is reviewing the viability of longer-haul international flights by its 787-8 fleet, which includes trips to Honolulu.

A final decision on the flights is expected in March 2020.

Jetstar says it is offering staff a three per cent pay rise.

But the TWU has a claim for more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts, guaranteed 30 hours a week and annual wage increases of four per cent.

“With the money Jetstar is spending on cancelling flights and upsetting holiday plans it could have solved this issue by now,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

“Its pay rates are unsustainable as Jetstar workers are struggling to pay bills and provide for their families. Its safety systems are unsustainable since there are serious risks to workers.”

The AFAP is pursuing a three per cent annual increase and has attacked Jetstar’s claims pilots want an effective 15 per cent jump.

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