Embroiled in ongoing industrial disputes with worker unions, Qantas has been forced to ground more aircraft to ensure the security of its passengers. The national carrier will ground a further two aircraft from Monday as industrial action by the Australian Licenced Engineers Association (ALAEA) continues to cause a backlog on fleet maintenance. The grounding of two wide-body Boeing 767 aircraft will see a further 80 domestic flights cancelled over the next month, and the removal of approximately 20,000 seats of capacity. This will mainly impact flights between the eastern states and Perth.
The ALAEA ban on overtime and work to rule, has now forced Qantas to ground seven aircraft, cancel around 500 flights and remove approximately 88,000 seats from sale over the next month. Since union strike action began less than two months ago by the ALAEA and the Transport Workers’ Union more than 60,000 passengers have been directly impacted, with 129 flights cancelled and 321 flights delayed or brought forward.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said; “The ongoing action from the licensed aircraft maintenance engineers’ union means we do not have the manpower to fulfil all of the necessary maintenance on our fleet of aircraft.”
The union ban on overtime, which will remain in place until Christmas, has caused a shortfall of more than 60,000 man hours of maintenance and that figure is increasing day-by-day. Joyce warned that more aircraft will be grounded and more services affected as long as the union action continues. He added; “These aircraft are flying this week and from Monday they won’t be. When we clear the backlog of maintenance then the aircraft will be put back into service. It’s as simple as that.”
In addition to the grounding of these two Boeing 767s, Qantas has already grounded four Boeing 737s and a Boeing 767.