Qantas crew sleep in seats in front of passengers – Australian Aviation

New footage obtained by Australian Aviation shows how the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were forced to sleep in economy cabin seats alongside passengers, with a makeshift blanket overhead to block out light.

The photos, which have been verified, were taken on a long-haul flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles and come as the airline faces thousands of customer complaints over hours of calls and queues waiting at airports.

Australian Aviation understands the problem arose, in part, due to a mechanical problem which meant the cabin lights could not be dimmed at the time, meaning the crew had to place blankets over the seats to turn off the light.

COVID-related supply issues also meant the privacy curtain, which would normally separate off-duty crew from paying passengers on the flight, has yet to be delivered.

A rendering of what the crew rest area will look like on Qantas’ A330 fleet when complete (Qantas)

In light of the extended range of its Airbus A330 fleet, Qantas has had to rethink designated areas for its cabin crew to rest and take mid-flight breaks, on all aircraft that will use this extended range. .

Typically, on the Airbus A330, official crew rest areas are reserved for the four pilots on board, while cabin crew are often assigned designated areas in the passenger cabin to take their breaks.

While in standard A330 operations the crew can sit in a traditional economy seat during their break, in A330 extended range operations the fatigue management rules of aviation stipulate that the crew must have a flat-lying option during their rest time on board.

As such, the crew now has a mattress to place on a bank of four economy seats, allowing them to stretch out. Under normal circumstances, a privacy curtain would be installed around these seats.

In the meantime, the crew will continue to take their breaks on the central bench seat of the economy seats, next to the passengers.

Australian Aviation understands this fact has contributed to ongoing tension between international cabin crew unions and Qantas, in a row that has seen Qantas turn to its New Zealand-based crew to cover Australian flights, largely the Brisbane – Los Angeles route using the A330s. extended range.

This has been the case since the launch of the route on April 1, understands Australian Aviation.

Just yesterday, Qantas blamed cabin crew unions as the reason it has had to rely on overseas-based crew on its Australian workforce in recent weeks, while responding to rumors suggesting he was sending more Australian roles overseas.

Rumors began circulating early on Tuesday that Qantas was using its UK and New Zealand-based crew on international flights instead of its Australian workforce, leaving many local workers on extended reserve rosters. , in order to save money. It has also been suggested that the airline may soon outsource some of its crew training functions to facilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

However, Qantas denied sending more jobs overseas, or that any of these decisions were made on the basis of cost.

Qantas has confirmed that it has relied heavily on its New Zealand cabin crew to operate some international services in recent weeks, however, the airline says this is due to ongoing contract negotiations with its cabin crew international, which saw the two sides in a stalemate. The airline has also confirmed that it will organize training in the United Arab Emirates, but denies that any roles are outsourced.

“A small amount of flying is being done by New Zealand-based crew because the union was not prepared to support Australian-based crew working longer routes with some of our A330 aircraft, including the Brisbane route. -Los Angeles, on terms that we were able to agree to,” said Rachel Yangoyan, executive director of cabin crew at Qantas.

“We wanted our Australian-based crew to fly this flight, but without union support for this to happen, we instead had to use New Zealand-based crew on some of these flights.”

It comes after Qantas in January asked the Fair Work Commission to have its international cabin crew company agreement torn up entirely due to ‘unenforceable’ listing conditions coded into the existing EBA, which limit types aircraft on which the crew can operate.

In response, the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia, which is responsible for negotiating the new EBA, said the union had never had a problem with changing this aspect of the contract, but had challenged other parts of the Qantas proposal.

Earlier, the union had overwhelmingly rejected Qantas’ EBA proposal, with more than 97% of those polled voting ‘no’ to the deal.

The airline also addressed rumors of outsourcing crew training and said that while it will “temporarily” use overseas facilities in the UAE, all training will be provided by its workforce. existing Australian.

“With Qantas’ crew training facilities expected to reach capacity as we ramp up our operations, we will temporarily utilize additional overseas facilities in the UAE to help increase our training capacity,” Yangoyan said. .

“These overseas facilities have specialist equipment essential for cabin crew training and all of the facilities we have in Australia are at full capacity.

“All of our training will be delivered by Qantas Group trainers like in Australia, we just hire the building and equipment that allows us to get the training done in the time frame we need.”

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