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Cabin crew union attack Qantas’ use of Kiwi staff on JFK flight

written by Jake Nelson | June 16, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Qantas Boeing 787-9, VH-ZNC.

Qantas has come under fire from the flight attendants’ union for using New Zealand-based cabin crews on the Auckland to JFK leg of its new Sydney-New York route.

Teri O’Toole, Secretary of the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA) International Division, has accused the Flying Kangaroo of using NZ crews instead of Australian staff on the longer 16-hour leg of the route so it could offer lower rest entitlements.

“After Australian taxpayers gave Qantas more than $2 billion in support to retain their staff during COVID-19, it seems like a slap in the face that Australian workers have been denied this work,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

O’Toole believes that Qantas went with the NZ-based crews, employed through the airline’s subsidiary JetConnect, because these crews voted to reduce rest entitlements for crews on 18-hour flights from 50 hours to 40 hours.

“It is a slippery slope to chase destinations by reducing your conditions. Of course our members would like to go to New York and carry Australians, but at what cost?” she said.


“The community should be outraged that after making $2.5 billion in profit, Qantas would choose and encourage work groups to reduce agreed conditions.”

Qantas has rejected the FAAA’s claims, saying NZ-based cabin crews will have more than 49 hours of scheduled rest over two nights before returning to Auckland.

“We’ve had a New Zealand cabin crew base for more than two decades and given the longest leg of the flight to New York departs from Auckland, it makes sense to for them to operate this service,” an airline spokesperson said.

“We’re hiring more than 1400 Australian-based cabin crew this year alone and promoting hundreds more as additional widebody aircraft enter service and we continue to ramp up international flying.”

This is the second time in as many months that Qantas has come under fire for using overseas crews, with the pilots’ union in May condemning its decision to let codeshare partner Finnair’s crew operate its services to Singapore and Bangkok.

Qantas launched its route from Sydney to New York via Auckland on 14 June, replacing the pre-pandemic Sydney-JFK service, which flew via Los Angeles. The 19-hour route using Boeing 787 Dreamliners will operate three times weekly, increasing to four from October, with more than 1,800 seats per week.

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