Qantas Airways announced its plans to ground two more aircraft and cancel 80 more flights over the next month due to the industrial action by unions which is expected to continue until Christmas.

Qantas Airways is all set to ground two wide-body Boeing 767 aircraft, it was announced today. The step was taken by the company as the persisting industrial action from the Australian Licenced Engineers Association (ALAEA) continues to cause a backlog of maintenance on the Qantas fleet.

The grounding of these two aircraft will result in the cancellation of a further 80 domestic flights over the next month. This will cause the exclusion of some 20,000 seats from the airline’s capacity. The move is most likely to impact flights between the eastern states and Perth.

Including the two aircraft, Qantas has now so far been forced to ground seven aircraft, cancel approximately 500 flights and take away around 88,000 seats from sale over the next month.

It has also been reported that some 60,000 passengers have been impacted as a result of 129 flights getting cancelled, and 321 flights delayed or brought forward since the union strike action has been initiated by the ALAEA and the Transport Workers’ Union some two months ago.

Qantas Airline Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said ALAEA’s continued ban on overtime work since September as well as a work to rule has resulted in the backlog of maintenance.

“The ongoing action from the licensed aircraft maintenance engineers’ union means we do not have the manpower to fulfil all of the necessary maintenance on our fleet of aircraft,” Mr Joyce was quoted in the press release that was posted on the airline’s website today.

“The industrial action has caused a shortfall of more than 60,000 man hours of maintenance and this is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to ground aircraft.

“If this overtime ban continues, we will be grounding even more aircraft. This is not a safety concern as problems are addressed before planes fly. But it is causing ongoing and unplanned disruption to our customers.

“This is impacting our passengers’ holiday and business travel plans and it is impacting on the tourism industry,” he added.

The Australian Licenced Engineers Association has provided the carrier with a written notification, stating that the association will keep the ban on overtime and the ‘go-slow’ in place until Christmas.

Mr Joyce also contradicted the union’s claims that these aircraft were already going to be grounded.

“These aircraft are flying this week and from Monday they won’t be. When we clear the backlog of maintenance then the aircraft will be put back into service. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

“The union is still demanding significant pay increases and guarantees that old work practices remain in place despite new generation aircraft requiring less maintenance, less often.

“The union is still demanding that Qantas hands over control of parts of the business to union leaders. Until the union drops its unreasonable demands we are not going to get any closer to an agreement,” Mr Joyce said.

Qantas’ Airfare May Rise

Passengers hoping to book cheap flight tickets with Qantas will need to book early as cheap tickets are expected to dwindle fast with the peak holiday season drawing near. With no end in sight to the industrial dispute and a number of flights getting cancelled, it is believed that things will only get trickier for travellers who are looking for cheap flight tickets with Australia‘s flag carrier.

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