Qantas has announced it will ground five aircraft and cut around 100 domestic flights per week due to ongoing industrial action. The airline took the decision due to a shortfall in maintenance capacity, following the continuing strikes held by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (ALAEA) union.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce confirmed today that four Boeing 737 aircraft and one Boeing 767 would remain grounded for at least a month.
“Regrettably, the industrial action from the licensed aircraft maintenance engineers’ union is now making it difficult to clear maintenance tasks in a timely fashion,” Joyce said. “It takes about 15,000 hours per week to maintain the fleet. We are seeing a shortfall in maintenance capacity of over 1,200 hours per week or about 8%. This means a number of aircraft are not available each day which has caused a decline in schedule reliability.”
Joyce revealed that Qantas’ on-time performance has fallen from 87% four weeks ago to 77% today.
“This is not a safety concern as problems are addressed before planes fly. But it is causing ongoing and unplanned disruption to our customers,” he added.
The reduction in flying will impact domestic services to and from Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. There will be no impact on QantasLink, Jetconnect and Jetstar services.
ALAEA is currently staging a series of rolling strikes at airports across Australia. The union has also placed a ban on overtime and is adopting a ‘go-slow’ approach to work.
On Friday an ALAEA strike is expected to affect more than 7,600 passengers, as Qantas cancels 17 flights and delays a further 32. Combined with today’s Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) strike, an estimated 60,000 passengers are expected to have their flights disrupted on Thursday and Friday.