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Network Aviation strikes to resume from Wednesday

written by Jake Nelson | February 27, 2024

Network Aviation operates QantasLink Fokker 100s in WA, such as this one, VH-NHP, photographed in Perth. (Image: Network Aviation)

Pilots from Network Aviation will resume protected industrial action for three days this week.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots, which suspended planned strikes over the weekend due to the risk from ex-Tropical Cyclone Lincoln, are planning three rolling one-day work stoppages for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday now that the threat has passed.

Network Aviation operates Qantas’ FIFO and charter services, as well as scheduled QantasLink flights, in WA. In a statement, AFAP senior industrial officer Chris Aikens addressed Qantas’ tactic of flying in 737-800s and charter planes from other airlines to break the strike, branding it a waste of money.

“Qantas management would prefer to spend up to $8 million a day trying to ride this storm rather than investing in its pilot workforce in Western Australia,” he said.

“What the pilots are asking for is just a drop in the ocean for the company given the half-year profit of $1.25 billion posted by Qantas on Thursday.

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“Despite the need to take further action, we remain open to meeting with the company in the hope that it can offer something that will be acceptable to this pilot group.”

According to Aikens, at an AFAP members’ meeting earlier this month attended by more than half of the Network Aviation workforce, most indicated they “may soon leave the company to fly for other airlines, including those overseas offering far better pay and conditions”.

“As attracting and retaining pilots becomes even more difficult for Network Aviation, the impact on Qantas and the WA economy will be significant if Qantas fails to address the inequities of treating Network pilots like second-class citizens,” he said.

Qantas has denied “walking away” from negotiations and has taken an intractable bargaining application to the Fair Work Commission in the hopes of expediting an end to the impasse.

According to Network Aviation chief operating officer Trevor Worgan, further contingency plans are in place should the strike action persist.

“We’ve been working to reach a new agreement for 18 months and want our pilots to start receiving pay increases of more than 25 per cent that we have offered. We’ve been clear that we cannot offer more,” he said.

Network Aviation previously said it was “disappointing” that the union is planning industrial action not long after the application was lodged.

“We’re working on plans to minimise disruption to our customers if the union does go ahead with industrial action,” a spokesperson said.

“Our proposed agreement, which was supported by all three pilot unions, including the AFAP, for the two most recent votes, offers our pilots significant pay rises and more guaranteed days off each roster period.”

Network Aviation was bought by Qantas in 2010 and operates a fleet of more than 30 aircraft.

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