Today’s announcement by Australian national carrier Qantas outlining its mass restoration and expansion plan for its international route network has drawn criticism from the AIPA.
Specifically, the decision by Qantas to wet lease two Airbus A330’s from Finland carrier Finnair has drawn a statement of condemnation from the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA).
Proposed Finnair A330 wet lease
The two wet leased Finnair Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft and crews would be deployed into Qantas long-haul routes from Sydney to Singapore and Bangkok respectively.
During the wet lease period which is set to run for 2 years, the aircraft will be deployed in the Qantas network on routes from Sydney and Singapore as well as Sydney and Bangkok.
Finnair pilots will fly scheduled Finnair flights from Helsinki to Singapore and from Helsinki to Bangkok; then, they will continue flying scheduled Qantas flights between Singapore, Bangkok and Sydney before returning to their home base in Helsinki.
The cabin crew are provided by Finnair partners based in Singapore and Bangkok, and the aircraft maintenance is performed by Finnair partners at the Qantas destinations.
The agreement with Qantas is a part of Finnair’s efforts to ensure the optimal use of its A330 fleet, which is range-limited in its deployment in Finnair’s own long-haul operations due to the closure of Russian airspace.
After the wet lease period, dry leases (aircraft lease with no crew) will then operate for a period of 2.5 years, starting in 2025.
The wet lease of the first aircraft will start in October 2023, and the wet lease of the second aircraft will start in early 2024.
Australian and International Pilots Association, Captain Tony Lucas expressed his disappointment with the move by the national carrier to outsource Australian jobs.
“Qantas’ decision to wet lease two Finnair aircraft is shocking, bitterly disappointing and could have been avoided with more effective management decisions,” Captain Lucas said.
“It beggars’ belief that Qantas is outsourcing the Spirit of Australia while simultaneously converting two of our own A330 passenger aircraft into freighters.”
“The decision to wet lease illustrates the failures of the fleet planning processes of the last five years and certainly recent decisions made during the pandemic recovery.”
“Not only is it disappointing for our hardworking and dedicated pilots but it is also disappointing for loyal Qantas passengers.”
“Using the words of Qantas, stepping onto one of its aircraft is supposed to “feel like home”. Sadly this won’t be the case for passengers on these flights.”
“Getting another carrier to operate our routes is also significantly more expensive than operating the services within Qantas. This is a sad day for our great airline.”
Qantas network expansion announcement
The response by AIPA follows hot on the heels of the Qantas announcement of its aggressive international network expansion which was issued earlier today, Friday 19 May.
The airlines statement outlined the mass expansion plan for its international route network, which comes as a result of pent-up air travel demand.
The plan will see the addition of 1 million passenger seat capacity to the carrier’s network over 12 months from October 2023.
The decision to wet lease to Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft from Finnair formed part of that overall expansion strategy. Finnair is a oneworld code share partner airline with the Australian national carrier.
Qantas is in the midst of a fleet upgrade and expansion plan which forms an intrinsic part of its overall international network expansion.
Ironically, as part of that fleet upgrade it is converting to of its own Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft to cargo freighters.