Three days of disruptions for Aussie travellers amid Qantas pilot strike: What you need to know

Qantas pilots flying workers to remote mines in Western Australia have vowed to extend their industrial action, adding a third day to a strike planned for later this week.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots confirmed flyers who work for Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation and QantasLink will stop working from Wednesday to Friday.

Network Aviation operates more than 300 flights a week, including regular services from Perth Airport and charter flights for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mine workers, corporates and emergency flights.

It is the latest move in a long-running pay dispute between the national carrier and the AFAP union.

Pilots walked off the job for 24 hours last Thursday, causing the cancellation of 35 Network Aviation flights.

ilots working for Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation and QantasLink have vowed to strike from Wednesday to Friday over stalled wage negotiations with the national carrier

The action was taken after Qantas announced an ‘intractable bargaining application’ to the commission after 18 months of failed negotiations.

Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens said on Monday pilots were left with ‘no other option’ but to extend their strike. 

‘Qantas management has angered our Network members by walking away from negotiations and, last week, taking previously agreed items off the bargaining table,’ Mr Aikens said. 

‘Our members deeply regret having to take this protected industrial action but are left with no other option.’

Qantas Group said it was ‘disappointed’ a third day of strike action would be added and is working to minimise the impact on affected customers. 

‘We are reviewing schedules and planning contingencies to make sure our customers can get where they need to go,’ a spokeswoman said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Qantas for comment. 

The airline explained it would be in contact with affected customers who will be able to request a refund or make fee-free changes to their flights.

Qantas Group was forced to re-book travellers onto Jetstar, Qantas and charter flights on Thursday after Network Aviation cancelled 35 flights due to a 24-hour pilot strike.

About 95 per cent of regular customers and about 70 per cent of charter customers were able to take to the air.

The pilots’ federation previously said Network Aviation had ‘walked away from the negotiating table’ and its members were left with no option other than a strike.

The pilots’ union has been attempting to negotiate an enterprise agreement for the pilots with Qantas Group for 18 months to replace their previous pay deal, which expired in 2020.

‘Qantas can readily resolve this by recognising that Network pilots are only seeking to achieve terms and conditions of employment that are commonplace amongst the Qantas pilots and the airline industry overall,’ Mr Aikens said.

‘We remain keen and willing to meet with the company’s management to arrive at some improvements in terms and conditions for the lowest-paid jet pilots.’

Network Aviation said the pilots had previously been offered and rejected pay increases of more than 25 per cent plus yearly three per cent increases, new allowances and greater roster protections.

The union rejected the claim.

The airline made an intractable bargaining application to the Fair Work Commission on Monday to help establish a new enterprise agreement with its pilots to break the deadlock.

A meeting between the parties is scheduled for Friday.

Network Aviation pilots also walked off the job over pay negotiations for 24 hours in early October, causing more than 40 flights to and from regional towns and mine sites to be cancelled.

The airline, which is wholly owned by Qantas, is WA’s premier charter company for the mining industry and operates hundreds of flights a week.

It also employs local pilots for the carrier’s regional arm QantasLink. More than 90 per cent of its 250-plus pilots are members of the pilots’ federation.