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Flight attendants line up behind Virgin in Bali stoush

written by Jake Nelson | January 24, 2024

Image: Virgin Australia

Virgin has won the backing of another major union in the “battle for Bali”, with the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA) also supporting its bid for more flights to Denpasar.

The FAAA has joined the TWU in siding with Virgin over its rival Jetstar as the two airlines compete for extra capacity to the popular tourist destination, with both carriers petitioning the International Air Services Commission (IASC) for the coveted extra slots.

In a submission to the IASC, the union supported Virgin’s pitch on the basis that it would provide more jobs for Australia-based crews.

“This application by Virgin will have the effect of ensuring that work for the cabin crew on these flights will go to Australian employees employed pursuant to Enterprise Agreements that offer wages and conditions that meet the obligations of the National Employment Standard,” wrote FAAA industrial relations manager Steven Reed.

“We support Virgin’s application as we believe this will have an ongoing benefit to the Australian economy among other considerations. By employing local Australian employees, the benefits will flow to Australian consumers and further enhance competition.

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“Other applicants currently utilise offshore (non-Australian) cabin crew on substandard conditions and that only offer limited consumer benefits in our opinion.”

Qantas wants to start daily Jetstar services between Cairns–Melbourne–Denpasar and three flights per week between Adelaide–Perth–Denpasar using its new fleet of A321LRs, while Virgin is planning two daily services from the Gold Coast and Adelaide to Bali, both via Perth, on 737-800s. The IASC has to decide on a winner, as there is not enough capacity to service both airlines’ ambitions.

The TWU previously announced it was aligning with Virgin over Jetstar this week, saying Virgin’s commitment to employing “directly-hired, locally-based crews” for the flights would “significantly contribute to the growth of local aviation jobs in Australia”.

“Prioritising directly-hired, local aviation jobs is essential to the long-term stability of the aviation sector in Australia, and maintaining a high level of safety and service standards,” wrote national secretary Michael Kaine.

“Virgin’s commitment stands in contrast with Jetstar and Qantas’ heavy reliance on internationally-based crews, which concerningly have been shown to be paid as little as $2 an hour for Indonesian-based crew.

“It is in the interests of the industry, airlines, airport workers and the travelling public for these additional services to be allocated to Virgin Australia, boosting local aviation jobs and representing a positive step towards rebuilding a sustainable and viable Australian aviation industry.”

Virgin Australia last year averted potential industrial action by cabin crew over the Christmas period after it negotiated a new enterprise agreement including pay rises, extra days off, recognition for unpaid standby time, and overtime after nine hours.

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Comments (2)

  • Virgin’s bid for extra Bali flights via Perth is their confirmation that the B737-800 is not the right aircraft for flights from our east coast. Destination weather fine all good, any hint of anything bad then you are looking for a fuel diversion, that’s why the opposition is planning the use of their new A321LR. The message must be, if you can’t at least match your opposition then forget it. At the risk of being boring, VOZ has to look at another aircraft type if it wants to be anything else than an intra Oz airline and forget the Max too

    • Richard Daniell

      says:

      Their wait for the 737 Max 10 is now likely to be pushed out by some margin, due to the Max 9 dramas. Unless they mix up there fleet, they won’t be able to compete with Qantas and Jetstar, domestic on 737’s is fine for some, but a 6 hr flight to Bali from Sydney or Melb on a 737 is not very comfortable and as you say likely to get diverted if adverse conditions prevail. There dreams of Phuket or elsewhere are just that dreams.

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