House of Travel, New Zealands largest privately owned travel company warns the proposed strike by Qantas engineers in Australia early January will have a much greater effect on Kiwis travelling than those planned by BAA workers in the United Kingdom. Qantas has acknowledged that the proposed strike would seriously effect their operations. Industrial action is planned by about 1,700 Qantas engineers by taking four hour stoppages from 9 January.
The likelihood of the strikes going ahead is very high with 87 per cent of members voting to strike. It would be the biggest disruption to air travel in Australia since a 1989 pilots’ strike.
House of Travel’s director of retail, Brent Thomas says the impact would be huge given the combination of the time of year and Qantas being a main carrier across the Tasman.
“Delays are inevitable as it will be impossible for Qantas to safely check its 213 aircraft without causing delay. The strikes will not only effect peoples Qantas flights to and from Australia but also potentially any flights internally in Australia and to points beyond. Their will be a number of customers who have connecting flights to other parts of the world who may miss these connections given the likely delays.”
The effect of the strike may be felt by other airlines that rely on Qantas engineers for any maintenance work on their aircraft whilst in Australia. Thomas remarked given the time of the year a number of corporate travellers were likely to be affected by the strike.
Many businesses will have staff returning to work on 7 January and will be making their first trip of the year to Australia that week. While holiday makers may continue with their plans, it is more likely that corporate travellers would delay their trip to avoid being caught up in the strike.
House of Travel alone has close to 3,000 customers travelling on Qantas planes alone and in excess of 10,000 travelling through Australia over this period.
The numbers of New Zealanders travelling to and from Australia for holidays and to see friends and family in January are significant. Strike action will cause huge uncertainty and inconvenience for travellers at this time.
House of Travel has been working with customers to minimise the effect of the potential strike action where possible and stressed the importance of travel insurance to avoid additional costs incurred through unlikely events such as this.
Travel insurance is vital and the only way to ensure costs are avoided from unexpected events. Whether it is an accident or strike action which alter your plans having that travel insurance means you will not be out of pocket for additional expenses you werent anticipating.
House of Travel recommended people prepare for delays and ensure they are at the airport at least an hour earlier than normally required. Having adequate cash on them for contingency plans such as meals and personal effects, especially if travelling with children, this will help during what will be a stressful time.