New reports have revealed Qantas’ Project Sunrise plans are being thwarted by a group of rebellious pilots.
According to The Australian Financial Review, Qantas pilots are side-stepping the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) in a secret bid to hinder the airline’s plans for ultra-long-haul flights from Australia’s east coast to London and New York.
The Flying Kangaroo plans to introduce the North Atlantic services from 2023, but remains in negotiations over pay and conditions.
A company email from Qantas International chief executive Tino La Spina last week said the airline could bring in new pilots for Project Sunrise if staff failed to approve the industrial agreement currently in front of AIPA.
“It’s become clear that Sunrise is something that our international business needs to maximise its long-term success and defend its competitive position,” La Spina said, as reported by AFR. “It is time to make decisions.”
Qantas is dissatisfied with negotiations with AIPA over the latest enterprise bargain agreement, of which Project Sunrise is a major part, La Spina said.
As such, the flag carrier is reportedly prepared to bypass the union entirely and offer terms directly to pilots.
“We will continue good faith negotiations with AIPA on the package as a whole – including non-Sunrise components,” La Spina said.
“But, if we can’t reach in-principle agreement with them very soon, we will offer a package like the one outlined above directly to you in March, so that you have the opportunity to have your say.
“If we are unable to secure a new long-haul EBA10 with our pilots that meets the Sunrise investment case within Airbus’ timeframe, we will be left with no viable alternative but to have Sunrise flying performed by a new employment entity that can provide the cost base we need for this important business opportunity,” he said.
Under the pay scale in the proposed agreement, captains would be paid a base rate of $395,000 a year. First officers are in line for $261,000 a year, and second officers $129,000.
Adding to the lack of faith in AIPA relating to lengthening negotiations over the bargaining agreement comes the news some pilots have circulated self-made material telling others to reject the offer Qantas had put on the table.
“You will be working harder than ever before. You will be away from home more than ever before. And, you will be doing it for less money than ever before,” one presentation obtained by AFR said.
The presentation is understood to be one of several negative inter-worker communiques circulating that are unsanctioned by AIPA.
The author of the above presentation wished to remain anonymous for fears of retaliation from management told AFR he remained resolute in their position.
“We work over Christmas, weekends, all through the night, and now they’re asking us to do a flight that is currently illegal, with serious safety questions, and instead they just want to nickel and dime the pilots,” the person told the outlet.
“Qantas pilots in cockpits all over the world will be distracted today and over the coming weeks by Tino’s email and the threat to their jobs.”