Qantas has been forced to ground another Boeing 767, as engineer strikes have led to concerns about the reliability of its fleet. The airline added however, that it has returned one B737 to service. This means that Qantas now has seven grounded aircraft – four Boeing 767s and three Boeing 737s. The number of cancelled flights for the four-week period remains unchanged at around 500.
The groundings are the result of ongoing industrial action by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), while the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) will continue its campaign of rolling strikes tomorrow, with up to 10,000 passengers expected to be affected by delays on Friday. The airline is meeting its pilots’ union today, although hopes of a settlement are not high.
Qantas Group Executive, Lyell Strambi said; “We apologise to customers who will be impacted by the industrial action by the TWU at airports around Australia. Our customers have been very loyal and understanding over the past few months however we appreciate that their patience is wearing thin.
“We have made our best offer to the TWU however they have rejected this offer. Going on strike will only cause further disruptions to our passengers and won’t get us any closer to an agreement,” he added.
Strambi said that despite the temporary suspension of industrial action by the ALAEA, Qantas’ fleet was being impacted by a loss of around 60,000 man hours of maintenance.
“While our Boeing 737 fleet health is improving, the health and reliability of the B767s continues to be affected by the cumulative effects of months of union action,” Strambi said. “The backlog of maintenance was caused by months and months of industrial action and doesn’t just disappear overnight because the union has suspended industrial action for a few weeks,” he added.
Industrial action has forced Qantas to cancel 129 flights and delay 387 others in the last few months, impacting an estimated 70,000 passengers.