Qantas Refutes Engineering Union Claims

Sydney, 13 March 2007

Qantas today totally refuted claims made by the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association - ALAEA that prisoners were used to work on Qantas aircraft in Singapore.

The Executive General Manager of Qantas Engineering, Mr David Cox said: "Qantas categorically denies the union's outrageous claim regarding prisoners. No prisoners have access to any Qantas aircraft undergoing maintenance - in Singapore or anywhere else.

"This is part of an industrially motivated campaign by the ALAEA aimed at protecting uncompetitive work practices in Australia."

Mr Cox said other statements made by the union in its submission to the inquiry into aspects of the Qantas Sale Act, and at today's hearing in Canberra were also incorrect.

He said:
- heavy maintenance work previously undertaken in Sydney had NOT been transferred overseas. Qantas announced in March 2006 that it would keep wide body aircraft heavy maintenance in Australia and work that was previously undertaken at Sydney was now done at Qantas Engineering’s facility at Avalon in Victoria.
- the vast majority – 90 per cent – of Qantas’ heavy maintenance work was undertaken in Australia, as had been the case for many years. Around 10 per cent of work was outsourced when it could not be accommodated in Australia or where it involved new aircraft types where work volumes were very low;
- all maintenance providers used by Qantas, which also do work for other leading airlines, met CASA regulatory requirements. Additionally, their employees underwent specific training to meet Qantas’ requirements.

Mr Cox said that regardless of ownership, safety would remain Qantas’ number one priority.

"Qantas will never compromise on safety, and the ALAEA knows this," he said.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (Q3543)