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Qantas pilots stand against hiring of foreign flight crews

August 10, 2018 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Citing safety concerns and other objections, Qantas pilots are taking a firm stand against a labour agreement between Qantas and the Federal Government that will let the airline import overseas pilots and instructors.

Qantas has reportedly gained approval to recruit up to 76 overseas pilots and instructors for its regional wing QantasLink. They will help with pilot training, with those employed allowed to stay in Australia for up to four years.

Qantas pilots oppose the concept, with some seeing the move as the thin end of the wedge and a means of forcing down wages. The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) – a union that does not have a reputation for intransigence of confrontation – considers the purported pilot shortage in Australia is insufficient to warrant the agreement struck between Qantas and the Federal Government to relax restrictions on skilled work visas.

Pilots have called on the Federal Government to produce the evidence used to assess the purported skill shortage. AIPA president Captain Murray Butt said AIPA rejected the assertion that there were insufficient numbers of capable Australian candidates to fill the positions.

QantasLink Fokker 100 at Wagga Wagga airport

“Qantas should not have been granted a special deal to hire foreign pilots before properly testing the labour market,” Captain Butt said.

“The airline is offering prospective recruits salaries as low as AUD 65,000 a year after candidates have spent as much as AUD 150,000 each to complete their training.

“If there is a real pilot shortage of Australian applicants, and AIPA has serious doubts, it has come about because the aviation employers have sat on their hands and done nothing to address the impending supply-side problem.  Collectively, they have made aviation a relatively unattractive career.”

Captain Butt said Qantas had admitted in a submission to the Federal Government that there were suitable candidates within Australia but not enough candidates to meet expected needs and flying standards.

“Our view is that this is little more than a smoke screen for Qantas to make sure it keeps pilot salaries as low as possible,”

“These kinds of special deals for individual employers are supposed to cover skilled overseas workers where there is a demonstrated need that can’t be met in the Australian labour market.”

Butt said AIPA considers this TSS visa approach by Qantas to be an abuse of process, designed to substitute Commonwealth benefits as inducements to employ people on terms and conditions that apparently have otherwise proved to be unattractive and inadequate to Australian pilots.  Apparently, the prospect of permanent residency overcomes a lot of other concerns for foreign applicants.

“We are calling on the Department of Home Affairs to produce the evidence used to assess the purported skill shortage,” Captain Butt said.

“Qantas is offering pilot recruits less than the average rates being paid to bus drivers in Sydney and expecting them to perform highly skilled work at unacceptably low rates of pay.”

Butt said Australia should learn from the previous US commercial aviation industry experience. Salaries had been pushed down to the point where pilots were forced to reside so far away from airports they were subjected to dangerous levels of fatigue once they took off.

“This kind of race to the bottom caused a fatal crash in the US and a rethink by the industry. We don’t want our aviation safety record in Australia to be compromised,” Butt said.

“We are also concerned about the quality of pilots Qantas will be recruiting at the rates they are offering.”

Edited by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    What, has Rex run out of pilots for QF to poach? Another sterling effort by Mr Joyce. No attempt to train their own pilots, apart from an academy that hasn’t even opened yet because he thought they’d get by letting Rex train the crew and then dangling the “wouldn’t you like to fly a jet” in front of these young pilots. Now the Well of Rex has apparently dried up and they go looking elsewhere. Trouble is, with other countries offering considerably higher wages than QF, you have to question the quality of the applicants they’ll get.

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