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Qantas Statement on Airtcraft Maintenance

Sydney, 21 March 2007

Qantas today called for engineering union officials to stop misleading the Australian public about safety and maintenance standards and concentrate on doing their part to support the stringent systems Qantas had in place all over the world.

Qantas Executive General Manager Engineering David Cox said it was ludicrous to suggest that engineering work carried out by its overseas providers was any less safe than that undertaken in Australia.

"These are the same maintenance organisations that maintain aircraft for some of the most respected airlines. Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific, for example, all use these facilities without being accused of being unsafe," Mr Cox said.

"Aircraft manufacturers - Airbus and Boeing - make aircraft and components overseas, and yet these components are not deemed unsafe.

"Mysteriously, only heavy maintenance done for Qantas outside of Australia since the closure of the Sydney base comes in for criticism."

Mr Cox said the facts were that:

- Qantas had been conducting a proportion of heavy maintenance checks overseas since the commencement of the jet era in the 1960s;
- its overseas providers were in the top tier of the industry;
- Qantas' overseas providers were certified by Qantas and met CASA regulatory requirements, and their employees were specially trained to meet Qantas' own requirements; and
- currently only 10 per cent of Qantas maintenance, which was generally overflow work or new aircraft types where volume was low, was done overseas - no different to years gone by.

"This does not mean that issues do not occasionally arise at any maintenance facility, including in our Australian operations.

"When this happens, regardless of the facility or its location, the process is the same. Any quality issue is recorded, and then we work with the facility - whether it is Avalon or Singapore or anywhere else - to resolve it.

"The wild claims coming from the unions - which last week included the accusation that Singapore prison inmates had something to do with current Qantas maintenance - border on the xenophobic.

"They do nothing to support - in fact they hinder - our drive to create a competitive maintenance business in Australia.

"Instead, they seem determined to destroy working relationships with Qantas management in some misguided view that they may gain some leverage in their EBA negotiations."


QANTAS ENGINEERING IN AUSTRALIA

- $300 million investment in Australian facilities and training in the past five years
- Total employees based in Australia: 6,000
- Heavy maintenance employees carry out 90 per cent of Qantas' heavy maintenance workload - 900 in Avalon; 425 in Tullamarine and 450 in Brisbane
- Qantas is one of the few airlines in the world with its own industry training program
- Qantas currently employs more than 400 apprentices

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3552)
Email: qantasmedia@qantas.com.au