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QantasLink 717 stuck in the mud at Rockhampton

written by Hannah Dowling | July 12, 2022

Qantas Boeing 717 bogged in the mud at Rockhampton (Twitter user @cqplanespotting / Russell Prothero)

A QantasLink Boeing 717 has found itself stuck in the mud at Rockhampton Airport after its crew “inadvertently” rolled into the soft soil during taxi.

The flight, QF1798, departed Brisbane at 6:18pm on Monday night, travelling one hour to its destination of Rockhampton.

The plane landed at 7:17pm and was taxiing back to the terminal, where it then rolled into the mud and became bogged.

A Qantas spokesperson told the Courier Mail that the pilot of the plane was taxiing at low speed when they “inadvertently guided the aircraft across soft ground and became stuck just before the terminal”.

Despite the plane’s wheels being firmly stuck, passengers were able to safely disembark onto the apron.

The aircraft, VH-NXH, was due to depart on the return flight from Rockhampton to Brisbane on Monday evening, however the plane was unable to be removed from the mud. Passengers faced a short delay and were re-booked onto another aircraft.

The plane remained stuck near the taxiway on Tuesday and is expected to be moved in the coming days.

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Rockhampton Regional Council, which manages the airport, said there was no further impact to the airport’s operations.

It marks the latest in a growing list of incidents and disruptions across the Qantas network and the greater aviation industry, as the sector continues to battle against the “perfect storm” of pent-up travel demand, COVID-19 absences, and an underlying shortage of aviation staff.

In May, Australian Aviation reported that flight delays had hit never-before-seen highs with Qantas marked as the worst offender, with just 59 per cent of its flights arriving on time. The industry’s cancellation rate also blew out to double its normal rate.

Meanwhile, passengers are now reporting an increase in baggage issues, with bags increasingly not making it onto flights.

It also comes as Qantas came to a reluctant agreement with its pilot cohort on new pay and working conditions, after a drawn-out negotiation process.

Further, pilots’ union AIPA claimed Qantas threatened to outsource roles if its members didn’t agree to a new enterprise agreement.

The deal, which was eventually accepted, was required so that pilots could transition from the airline’s 737s to its upcoming new fleet of Airbus A321XLRs.

Qantas strongly denies the accusation.

“While it is pleasing to see that mainline pilots have secured flying the first A321s, it is important to acknowledge the looming threat of outsourcing that hung over this vote,” said Captain Tony Lucas, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA).

“It may seem to some within the company that this industrial methodology is the way forward, but I hope that a more collaborative approach can be achieved in the future — one that respects the role our members play in contributing to a profitable and safe airline.

“AIPA is disappointed that Qantas would threaten to walk away from those pilots if they voted no to the deal.

“Our pilots are and will always be ready to continue safely flying our country’s travelling public around Australia and the world.”

Qantas denied the claim and insisted that if terms weren’t reached, it would have instead used “another entity” within the business to do the flying. “This was communicated to our pilots throughout the process”, the airline said.

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