Stoush asleep in Qantas flight: Airline turns to Kiwis to replace angry Australian cabin crew

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Arina Bloom said she received no warning from United Airlines and asked to resign immediately. Video / Arina Bloom via TikTok

Qantas has turned to New Zealanders for use as cabin crew on some long-haul international flights after angry Australian flight attendants were forced to build themselves special sleeping areas in the economy cabin.

Australian cabin crew were reportedly forced to make blanket “forts” and sleep in economy class passenger seats on Qantas long-haul flights.

A photo taken on board a Qantas Airbus A330 flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles shows blankets spread over the seats as makeshift shelters – apparently for privacy for flight attendants while they sleep underneath.

A330 aircraft are used for flights of less than 14 hours and are not equipped with private sleeping cabins for the crew as on other long-haul aircraft.

“I was shocked, a lot of people have published reports questioning the safety,” an anonymous Qantas employee told Australian network Nine Network. “I feel like they hate us, I feel like they don’t understand what the stewardess role is.”

Flight Attendants Association of Australia spokeswoman Teri O’Toole said the issue had created a tense situation between the union and Qantas over working conditions, according to Daily Mail Australia.

“The crew tried to get some privacy by making a fort like little kids with blankets to give themselves privacy, which is just a shame,” she said.

“It’s not proper rest in the workplace. It’s not proper rest for anyone.”

She claimed that while the union demanded an extra day off for employees to make up for the lack of sleeping accommodation on A330 planes, Qantas had instead replaced Australian crews with New Zealand crews, leaving many Australians out of work.

The airline has been accused of 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 ‘to save money.

However, Qantas denied that it outsources jobs or that any of these decisions were made based on cost.

Qantas executive director of cabin crew, Rachel Yangoyan, said the airline was working on a long-term solution that would create a private space for flight attendants to rest.

“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 on longer routes with some of our A330 aircraft including the Brisbane route -Los Angeles, on terms we were able to agree on,” Yangoyan told Australian Aviation.

“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.”

According to the publication, official Airbus A330 crew rest areas are usually reserved for the four pilots on board, while cabin crew are often assigned designated areas in the passenger cabin to take their breaks. Aviation fatigue management rules state that the A330 crew must have a flat-lying option during their rest time on board.

“It’s really important to note that what you’ve seen now is actually not what the long-term solution will be,” Yangoyan said.

“What they will have installed in about six weeks is a full curtain that wraps around this elongated sleeping area.

“But in the meantime, while we were operating without this curtain, we have changed the schedules of these flights so that they operate during the day. [and] our crew don’t need as much sleep time as they normally would if we were to operate these flights in the evening.

“We also looked at a bit of extra rest that we give these crews in Los Angeles and also when they return home.

“Once we put that curtain up, we’re really confident it will be a private space with an extended bed, where our crew can really get enough rest from those longer tasks.”

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