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TWU joins Virgin trenches in the battle for Bali

written by Jake Nelson | January 23, 2024

Jake Nelson shot these Virgin Australia 737-800s at Sydney Airport.

The TWU has thrown its support behind Virgin Australia as it vies with Jetstar for coveted extra flights to Bali.

Both Virgin and Qantas have applied to the International Air Services Commission for more capacity to Denpasar, with Virgin’s promise to use Australia-based crews winning the support of the influential union over Jetstar’s pitch for lower average airfares to the popular holiday destination.

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. The IASC has to decide on a winner, as there is not enough capacity to service both airlines’ ambitions.

Writing to the IASC, the TWU said 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.

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“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.”

In a press release, Kaine said workers had been pushing Virgin owner Bain Capital for “more directly-hired, decent local jobs in our aviation industry”, which these new international routes would provide.

“We’ve seen the airport chaos and sharp decline in standards that has resulted from the Qantas model of insecure, fragmented work and illegal outsourcing,” he said.

“When Virgin went into administration, workers made huge sacrifices to ensure the long-term viability of a strong second airline. With the airline continuing to expand and grow, good, secure jobs to keep skilled workers in the industry will be key to its ongoing success.

“Decisions like this which prioritise good, local jobs should be the norm in aviation, not the exception.”

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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Comment (1)

  • Why am I not surprised? Both Mr Kaine the current TWU fella and his predecessor, now Senator Sheldon, both have an anti Qantas DNA in their persona. Both have never forgiven Qantas and Joyce when he shut the airline down in 2011 to foil their campaign which the Fair Work Commission terminated in the national interest.

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