The union representing Qantas pilots has attacked as “bizarre and worrying” claims by CEO Alan Joyce that grounding the airline’s fleet during last year’s labour dispute was “positive for the brand.”
The decision to ground the fleet without warning for three days in late October left tens of thousands of passengers stranded and cost the airline $126 million by its own estimates. But Joyce has staunchly defended the decision, saying it forced an end to industrial action that was eroding passenger confidence and the carrier’s bottom line.
“I think it has ended up being positive for the brand,” he told The Australian last week in a profile that named him one of Australia’s most influential businessmen.
Australian and International Pilots Association president Captain Barry Jackson lambasted Joyce’s comments as “incredibly worrying” at a time when Qantas needed to focus on repairing damage to its brand after a bruising 2011.
“In order to do so we need a leader who is in touch with passengers and not just business leaders,” he told the AAP.
“Mr Joyce needs to wake up and realise that the big end of town is cheering him on because they like the idea that someone is crazy enough to deal out huge damage to the company they lead in the name of industrial battle.”
Labour umpire Fair Work Australia ordered an end to industrial action following the three-day grounding and placed Qantas and three of its unions in binding arbitration. The pilots’ union and Transport Workers Union remain in arbitration; the union representing Qantas engineers reached a labour deal last month.