Qantas has said it “never” threatened to outsource roles in the event a pilots’ union rejected a new enterprise agreement.
It comes after the AIPA voted through a deal on working terms to allow its members to fly the airline’s forthcoming fleet of Airbus A321XLRs. However, the group suggested the yes vote came under the duress of a “looming threat” roles could go elsewhere.
“To be clear, we never said that a no vote would mean this flying would be outsourced,” Qantas told Australian Aviation.
“Had either pilot group not been able to provide us with the working arrangements needed to get a return on our investment, another entity within the Qantas Group that was able to do this would have done the flying.
“This was communicated to our pilots throughout the process.”
Australian Aviation reported in May that Qantas’s ‘Project Winton’ domestic fleet upgrade program would begin in 2023.
The deal will start with 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 A220-300s to gradually replace its current fleet of Boeing 737 and 717 aircraft, however it includes purchase options for up to 94 additional aircraft through to 2034.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said, “The A320s and A220s will become the backbone of our domestic fleet for the next 20 years, helping to keep this country moving.
“Their range and economics will make new direct routes possible, including serving regional cities better.”
Joyce said these new aircraft and engines will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent if running on traditional fossil fuels, and even more so if using Sustainable Aviation Fuel, bringing the airline closer to its goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
AIPA’s claims of apparent threats follow the Federal Court now twice ruling that the airline’s decision to outsource 2,000 staff was illegal and in breach of the Fair Work Act.
Qantas removed internal ground handling operations in early 2021 at the 10 Australian airports where the work was done in-house, which included Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne. It led to a furious response from the TWU, which eventually took the matter to court.
The resulting case, which concluded in August 2021, ruled that Qantas had violated section 341B of the Fair Work Act, which protects employees’ rights to bargain and take protected industrial action.