FWA agrees with Qantas on pre-flight safety check issue

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Published: June 15, 2012

Qantas 737-800. By Rob Finlayson

Fair Work Australia (FWA) has upheld Qantas’ (QF) position that pre-flight safety checks on Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft are no longer required on every flight.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Assn. (ALAEA), which disagrees with the ruling, had told its members to continue to perform the maintenance tasks after the mandate took effect June 14. However, after QF filed an application with FWA objecting to ALAEA’s action, the regulator upheld the carrier’s position and issued a binding order to the union, requiring it to cease what it called unprotected industrial action. 

ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas told ATW in an email it would appeal the decision. However, he said, “Our members are complying with the Fair Work order; they could lose their houses if they don’t.”

“From our point of view it is now business as usual and we can proceedwith running our business in line with industry standards and new technology,” QF senior advisor, corporate communications Thomas Woodward told ATW. The Australian carrier has approximately 5,000 engineers with 1,000 licensed engineers in line maintenance, Woodward said.

At the end of last year, FWA was asked to arbitrate a bitter 10-month dispute over maintenance between QF and its three labor unions, including the ALAEA, which resulted in the grounding of its fleet. The FWA ultimately ruled QF had the flexibility to have heavy maintenance work performed overseas for aircraft such as the Airbus A380 (ATW Daily News, Dec. 20, 2011).

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