Long-haul pilots at Australian flag-carrier Qantas Airlines have voted to take industrial action for the first time since 1966.
The decision is the latest stage of an ongoing dispute centred on the introduction of new working arrangements at the airline.
Qantas pilots are concerned jobs will be outsourced to personnel from New Zealand in an attempt to lower costs.
In response 89 per cent of pilots eligible voted in the ballot, with 94 per cent voting to take industrial action.
Australian & International Pilots Association president, Barry Jackson, said pilots will now decide on what form of action they will take.
“Qantas pilots dedicate their careers to looking after Qantas passengers, so naturally we will be doing everything possible to minimise disruption to travellers and focus the pressure on management,” said Jackson.
“However, the historic nature of this vote proves just how critical a point we have reached.
“We believe and the public believes that when you board a Qantas flight you are entitled to a Qantas pilot in the cockpit.”
“The key point of differentiation Qantas has as a brand is its Australian safety culture, built over 90 years,” added Barry Jackson.
Action could include rolling stoppages of up to 48-hours starting as early as next week.
Following the announcement Qantas said it was disappointed with the outcomes.
The airline added it was prepared to negotiate reasonable increases in pay and conditions, but the demands from the union were “excessive and unsustainable”.
“The pilots’ union is demanding pay increases, free flights on top of already heavily discounted airfares and a requirement that pilots on all Qantas airlines, including Jetstar, are paid the same high rates as Qantas pilots,” it said.
“Paying Qantas rates to pilots for our low-cost carrier Jetstar would drive up ticket prices, make Jetstar unprofitable and set precedents for other staff salaries.”
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