Pilots at Qantas subsidiary to strike affecting hundreds of FIFO workers  

Bahnfrend / Wikimedia Commons

Pilots at a key Qantas subsidiary airline are to take industrial action on February 8, 2024, which is likely to cause significant flight disruption and cancellations. Hundreds of regional travelers and FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) employees based at mines throughout Western Australia will be affected as a result of the strike. 

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) has given notice to the Qantas Group that its members employed by Network Aviation on behalf of QantasLink based in Perth in Western Australia have voted to stop work for 24 hours on February 8, 2024. 

The pilot union representing the pilots group claims it has been negotiating an enterprise agreement with Qantas to replace their previous pay deal, which expired in 2020. However, no such deal has been reached despite negotiations being held throughout that time to resolve the dispute. 

“The AFAP has been genuinely negotiating and trying to reach an agreement with Qantas management, but the company remains unwilling to revisit its inflexible wages policy,” said AFAP Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens.  

“We apologize for the disruptions this action will cause to the traveling public in Western Australia, along with FIFO mining staff and other workers reliant on Network and QantasLink flights scheduled,” Aikens added. 

Meanwhile, a Network Aviation spokesperson said that the company was “disappointed with the decision, and its recent wage proposals offered pilots significant pay rises and more days off.” 

“We’re working on plans to minimize disruption to our customers if the union does go ahead with industrial action,” the spokesperson added. 

Montague Smith / Wikimedia Commons

Network Aviation pilots walked off the job over pay negotiations for 24 hours in early October 2023, causing more than 40 flights to and from regional towns and mine sites to be canceled. The carrier, which is wholly owned by Qantas, is one of Western Australia’s most important charter companies for the mining industry.  

According to the Network Aviation website, the carrier is based at Perth Airport and is “Western Australia’s premier Aircraft Charter Company for FIFO Air Charters and Private Air Charters”.  

“As a subsidiary of Qantas, we are committed to providing aircraft charter services to the highest standards. We have an excellent reputation for safety, reliability, and outstanding customer service,” the website continued.  

Network Aviation specializes in Mining Charters, Corporate Charters, and Emergency Freight. It operates over 300 flights a week, with regular services from Perth Airport to destinations throughout Western Australia. In addition to charter flights, Network Aviation also operates several regular airline services for Qantas to destinations throughout Western Australia under the QantasLink banner. 

Network Aviation

Network Aviation operates a mixed fleet of 32 jet aircraft comprising a single Airbus A319, 15 A320s, plus 16 aging Fokker 100 twinjets. More than 90% of its 200-plus pilots are members of the AFAP pilots’ federation. 

FIFO contracts are lucrative, flying mining and other staff to remote mines located throughout the huge state of Western Australia for often several weeks at a time, mostly from Perth International Airport (PER).  

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