Regional Express (Rex) said it was “beyond belief” that its pilot cohort refused its latest pay proposal.
The airline said its offer was “substantially better” than the offer accepted by the union on behalf of QantasLink pilots in 2021.
Australian Aviation reported Rex’s proposal was rejected by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) last week, claiming it would mean that Rex’s Saab pilots will see “a cut in real-term salary of more than 5 per cent” over four years.
“It does not contain back pay and does not cover CPI over the previous four years,” the union added.
The union is now preparing itself for industrial action against the airline, arguing that Rex pilot’s “have been left with little option than to exercise their lawful right to lodge an application for a Protected Industrial Action (PIA) ballot with the Fair Work Commission (FWC).”
The Union and the airline are entering their fourth year of negotiations over Saab pilot’s salary and working conditions.
The regional airline expressed its disappointment on Tuesday that the union applied to the FWC for permission to hold a ballot on taking industrial action, particularly given Rex’s claims that its offer was much better than QantasLink’s offer.
“Just last September, the AFAP agreed to a 2 per cent pay rise in 2021 and 2022 for QantasLink pilots,” Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Rex on the other hand has offered its SAAB pilots a 5.1 per cent pay rise from 1 July 2022, plus significant catch-up payments worth another 8 per cent once the business is profitable again.
“Rex is the only airline that has not retrenched any of its pilots and it has stood by them through the difficult COVID years.
“We believe that they will stand by the company during this period where recovery is nascent and the company is still fragile.”
The union claimed that Rex’s offer was “even worse” than offers the airline had previously proposed.
“The AFAP stands by our communications to members at Rex and will continue to communicate to our members in an honest, timely and accurate manner,” a spokesperson told Australian Aviation.
This comes after Rex hinted Qantas may have been behind “malicious, misleading and deceptive,” correspondence circulated by the AFAP to the airline’s members.
The regional airline went on to express its concern about this issue, considering the president of the AFAP is Louise Pole, a pilot with QantasLink, a competitor to Rex.
Qantas said in a statement that Rex’s claims were “false”.
“This is just the latest example of Rex blaming Qantas and others for decisions that by its own admission it has made ‘to look after itself’,” the airline said.