Australian airline Qantas faces engineers strike

Engineers from the Australian airline Qantas are to hold a one-hour strike on Friday amid fears over job security. The strike will likely cause disruption for thousands of passengers.

The strike was called after negotiations between the ALAEA, an engineers’ union, and the airline, broke down. “What interests us more is job security, and for aircraft engineers that means simply being able to carry out aircraft maintenance in Australia,” Steve Purvinas, the secretary of the ALAEA, said. It is likely the strike will be the first in a line of industrial action.

Qantas 747-400.

Purvinas said last-ditch negotiations between the ALAEA and Qantas before a Fair Work Australia judge yesterday had “hit a brick wall.” Analysts say the strike will probably have a huge impact on Qantas flights. The airline said it was “extremely disappointed” at the strike action but said disruption would be minimal. “We will not be able to negotiate on some of the demands they have put forward, they are simply unacceptable,” an airline spokesperson said.

The ALAEA said the main concern was that Qantas was outsourcing more work overseas and maintenance checks on aircraft are becoming less regular. Pervinas said Qantas engineers were “sick of the systematic dismantling of our industry by Qantas management.”


Qantas says A380 aircraft are safe to fly after ‘serious’ incident

Australian airline Qantas has returned the first of its fleet of Airbus A380s to service, after all six of the “superjumbo” aircraft were grounded three weeks ago following one aircraft’s engine sustaining extensive midair damage; it landed safely in Singapore without injury. The airline stated that all of the aircraft have undergone extensive safety inspections and they are satisfied they are safe.

An Airbus A380 like that involved in the incident earlier this month. The A380, or "superjumbo", is the largest commercial passenger airliner in the world. Image: Andrei Dimofte.

Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, said: “It’s great that we can reintroduce the aircraft. We are 100 percent comfortable with it. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be restarting the operations today.” A spokesperson confirmed that tests had been performed “in close consultation with Rolls-Royce and Airbus” on the model’s Trent 900 engines. Qantas has replaced at least 14 engines, and modifications have been made to Trent 900s used by two other companies, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.

Experts said that the incident was embarrassing for Airbus; the airline’s shares have dropped by 7% since. Aviation journalist Tom Ballantyne said that the failure earlier this month was “certainly the most serious incident that the A380 has experienced since it entered operations.” The A380 made its first commercial flight in 2007, and is now in service with several other airlines, including Air France. It is the largest commercial passenger airliner in the world, with an 840-passenger maximum capacity, though Qantas’s can carry 450. There are reportedly plans to build a cargo version of the plane, which, aviation experts have suggested, would be the world’s first “triple-decker” freight aircraft; Airbus has not confirmed that this variant will be built.

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