Qantas Strikes a Deal with AIPA, Gets Closer to 787-9s

28th May 2015

An in-principle deal between Qantas and the Australian and International Pilot Association that has been a major burden for the carrier in its efforts to buy a fleet of Dreamliners has been made on Wednesday, reports say.

Namely, the Australian carrier and the pilots agreed a new wage covering some 1300 long-haul pilots. The deal will include a year-and-a-half wage freeze.

Deal Should Help Extend Pilots' Careers

While it may be a little strange that AIPA agreed to a pay freeze, reports say that the next-gen 787-9 planes Qantas has on order will be added to its long-haul operations, which will be beneficial to the pilots' careers.

Pilots who end up flying the Dreamliners will receive a flat per hour rate. The reason for this is that the carrier wants to make ultra-long-range flying more feasible.

In an email to the staff, Qantas chief pilot Dick Tobiano wrote:

"The most exciting aspect of this in-principle agreement is it contains terms and conditions for a new type of aircraft. This will potentially lead to new investment with a net hull increase, growth and promotional opportunities for our pilots."

AIPA Executive Committee to Discuss the Deal before the Union Members' Ballot

The executive committee of AIPA is scheduled to meet next week and discuss the proposed deal before it presents it to the union members for a ballot.

Before the negotiations with Qantas started, the representatives of AIPA had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The reason for this was to avert the possibility of someone disclosing commercially sensitive parts of the Dreamliners purchase.

Nathan Safe, President of AIPA, sent an email to the organization's members in which he explained the most striking part of the arrangement. That would be the inclusion of new terms and conditions for Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Provided, of course that Qantas board gives a green light for the purchase.

Safe also said:

"These changes have been based around building a viable business case for the type of ultra-long-range flying capable of being performed by the 787. The company has not sought significant changes to existing fleets' terms and conditions, aside from the company-wide policy of an 18-month freeze followed by annual increments of 3 per cent."

The arrangement also involves improvements to access for pilots to lounges, long-term sick leave, as well as passenger arrangements on QantasLink and Jetstar flights.

Alan Joyce, Qantas Chief Executive Officer earlier said that the carrier needs to make a deal with the pilots, as it is one of the major conditions before they can purchase the aircrafts. Qantas has an option for purchasing 50 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

This isn't the only condition, however. Qantas also has to reduce its debt and increase the profitability of its international business.

The twin-engine plane is also used by several other carriers, including United Airlines and Air New Zealand.