Qantas’ pilots suspend strike plan on Cyclone Lincoln risk

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Qantas' pilots suspend strike plan on Cyclone Lincoln risk © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A ground worker walking near a Qantas plane is seen from the international terminal at Sydney Airport, Australia, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

(Reuters) -Pilots at Network Aviation, a subsidiary of Australia’s Qantas Airways, called off their four-day strike plan from Thursday to enable evacuation flights if required due to threat from ex-Tropical Cyclone Lincoln, a pilots union said.

The pilots at Network Aviation, which conducts charter flights from mines in Western Australia, made the decision after talks with the state government, the Australian Federation Of Air Pilots (AFAP) said on Wednesday.

Qantas, the country’s flag carrier, and the union have been negotiating for 18 months with the pilots at Network Aviation having voted down three deals, including an offer of a pay increase of more than 25%, with 3% annual hikes to follow.

“The AFAP will monitor the situation regarding any possible future action once the current threat has passed,” senior industrial officer Chris Aikens said in a statement.

“However, we remain open to meeting with the company in the hope that it can offer something that will be acceptable to this pilot group.”

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Lincoln is forecast to strengthen again to cyclonic intensity on Friday, and likely to hit northern parts of Western Australia with wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) and dump heavy rains, Australia’s weather bureau said in its latest update.

“We have made a number of changes to the schedule for tomorrow (Thursday), and will contact customers directly if their flight is changing,” Qantas told Reuters in an emailed response.

Storm warnings stretched for more than 500 kilometres, with the weather system currently designated as a “tropical low”.

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