Qantas 747-400. Courtesy, Qantas

Qantas (QF) has canceled or delayed more than 50 flights Friday and has grounded five aircraft as the bitter dispute with three key unions continues (ATW Daily News, Oct. 13). The airline has scrapped 97 flights a week as pressure mounts for the Australian government to intervene to end the dispute.

QF is at war with unions representing its engineers, long-haul pilots and baggage handlers over pay increases, job security and management’s push into Asia to tap the world’s fastest growing—and potentially largest—aviation market.

Friday’s 4-hr. stoppage at Sydney by members of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (ALAME) will be followed by a similar stoppage at Adelaide Tuesday.

On Thursday, QF CEO Alan Joyce said the go-slow approach from the ALAME “is now making it difficult to clear maintenance tasks in a timely fashion. It takes about 15,000 hr. per week to maintain the fleet. We are seeing a shortfall in maintenance capacity of over 1,200 hr. per week or about 8%,” Joyce said.

“This means a number of aircraft are not available each day, which has caused a decline in schedule reliability.” He noted the airline’s on-time performance has “fallen from 87% four weeks ago to 77% today.”

The Australian and International Pilots Assn. warned Thursday it may look at stop-work meetings, although that is a last resort.