Qantas faces the threat of a strike by pilots in what could be the first industrial action at the Australian carrier since 1966.
Flight crew have been demanding increased job security as the carrier plans to revamp its loss-making international operations, which may lead to the axing of routes and a move of some operations overseas.
The airline is due to announce a restructuring of its international operations on August 24.
The Australian and International Pilots Association, which represents 2,500 pilots, voted to authorise strikes by long haul pilots for up to two full days.
Union president Barry Jackson said: “We now have a management team in charge who believe that you can shift operations to Asia, outsource the jobs of Australian pilots and not do damage as part of the process. They are wrong.”
But the union’s vice president Richard Woodward said pilots preferred to negotiate with the airline.
“We’re very conscious of disrupting the travelling public, we don’t intend to do that. We’d rather have the management negotiate,” he said.
The vote comes after Qantas engineers sanctioned a series of brief rolling strikes last month to protest over pay conditions and the airline’s growing use of overseas maintenance workers.
To curb costs, Qantas has offered voluntary redundancies to cabin crew, raised fares, delayed capital expenditure and cancelled aircraft orders.
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