TWU to support Virgin over Jetstar in fight for new routes to Indonesia

The forward fuselage of a Virgin Australia Boeing B737-7FE plane, registration VH-VBY, parked behind the domestic terminal at Sydney Kingsford-Smith Airport.  In the background is the vertical stabiliser of a Jetstar Airbus A320-232 plane, registration VH-XNP.  This image was taken from Ross Smith Avenue, Mascot, on a hot and sunny afternoon on 13 January 2024.
Edited by Travel Weekly

    The Transport Workers Union (TWU) will support Virgin’s recent application to the International Air Services Commission to add two new routes between Australia and Indonesia.

    The Australian sector of the International Air Services Commission (ISAC) is considering applications from both Virgin and Qantas for the right to provide nearly 2,500 extra seats a week between the nations under their current bilateral air services agreement.

    Qantas has applied to fly an extra 2,320 passengers a week on Jetstar aircraft while Virgin promises 2,464 extra seats to Denpasar each week with its application.

    The TWU has come out in support of Virgin’s application with a media release stating, “The new routes would add additional direct, local jobs to the Australian aviation industry.”

    Virgin’s application demonstrates its owner’s (Bain Capital) commitment to a five-point plan following workers’ industrial action in July last year.  If successful, Virgin will be able to source new, direct-hire roles.

    If the application is successful, Virgin’s commitment to staff the new routes with Australian-based crews would stand in contrast to its competitor Jetstar, which heavily relies on internationally-based crews who have been shown to make as little as $2 an hour.

    TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said new international Virgin routes would be a positive step for the Australian aviation industry.

    “New international Virgin routes would mean more directly-hired, decent local jobs in our aviation industry, which workers have been pushing for since they provided owners Bain Capital with a plan to future-proof the airline,” Kaine, said.

    “These jobs would stand in stark contrast to the huge reliance of internationally-based crew by Qantas, some of whom, appallingly, make as little as $2 an hour. We’ve seen the airport chaos and sharp decline in standards that has resulted from the Qantas model of insecure, fragmented work and illegal outsourcing.”

    “When Virgin went into administration workers made huge sacrifices to ensure the long-term viability of a strong second airline. With the airline continuing to expand and grow, good, secure jobs to keep skilled workers in the industry will be key to its ongoing success.”

    “Decisions like this which prioritise good, local jobs should be the norm in aviation, not the exception. We need a Safe and Secure Skies Commission which would be able to oversee and ensure appropriate decisions are made for the aviation industry.”

    In December of 2023, Virgin also announced plans to insource 40 ramp jobs in its international operations across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports, a decision which will enhance job security for workers and allow for upskilling of current Virgin ground crew.

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