Qantas says it is being forced to park a further two Boeing 767-300s from next Monday due to the backlog of maintenance work caused by industrial action by its maintenance engineers, and has warned more aircraft groundings may be necessary.
The airline says removing the two 767s from its fleet will mean a further 80 flights will be cancelled over the next month, removing capacity of 20,000 seats across its domestic network, mainly on flights between Perth and the east coast.
“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,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said. “The industrial action has caused a shortfall of more than 60,000 man hours of maintenance and this is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to ground aircraft.”
But the ALAEA, the union which represents Qantas maintenance workers, has accused Qantas of lying about the latest groundings, saying Qantas announced plans to dispose of the two 767s earlier this year.
“Maybe he should have removed the internal Qantas paperwork that said that they were grounded for disposal… They announced in April that these aircraft were going to be sold,” news.com.au reports ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas as saying.
“Alan Joyce is full of lies and the sooner he starts being honest with the employees, the public and the shareholders, the quicker Qantas will get back on track.”
Qantas says it is now taking seven aircraft out of its fleet, forcing it to cancel 500 flights and remove 88,000 seats from its domestic network over the next month.
“If this overtime ban continues, we will be grounding even more aircraft,” Joyce said. “This is not a safety concern as problems are addressed before planes fly. But it is causing ongoing and unplanned disruption to our customers.”
The airline says its on-time performance has fallen to 75 per cent this week.