Qantas urges pilots to agree on pay deal for world’s longest commercial flights

Qantas selected the Airbus A350-1000 as the preferred plane for the new routes to cities including London and New York in the first half of 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Qantas urges pilots to agree on pay deal for world’s longest commercial flights

  • Airline selected the Airbus A350-1000 as the preferred plane for the new routes to cities
  • ‘Our strong preference is to reach an agreement with our pilots’

SINGAPORE: Australia’s Qantas Airways has urged its pilots to reach agreement on a pay deal for the world’s longest commercial flights or face being replaced for those routes.
The airline selected the Airbus A350-1000 as the preferred plane for the new routes to cities including London and New York in the first half of 2023, but it said that an order for up to 12 jets was contingent on reaching a deal with pilots by March.
In an internal memo seen by Reuters, Qantas International head Tino La Spina said the end of March deadline for a pilot vote on the deal was firm.
“Airbus extended the delivery slots one last time once they knew they were the preferred supplier, but they are not willing to continue their exposure beyond that point,” he said.
Qantas and the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), which represents the pilots, have spent months in talks over a new pay deal.
If a deal is not reached soon, the company will put a pay deal directly to the pilots for a vote even if it does not have the union’s backing. A failure of that vote would result in Qantas forming a new lower-cost pilot group, La Spina said.
“Our strong preference is to reach an agreement with our pilots,” he said in a statement after the memo was sent.
The pay on offer for Qantas A330 pilots who would also be flying the A350 is about 5 percent more than for its Boeing 787 fleet, the memo said.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks between the airline and union has been pay rates for future second officers, the most junior pilots.
Mark Sedgwick, president of the AIPA union representing the pilots, said that the union had proven willing to negotiate with the company, citing a recent agreement for short-haul pilots.
“Unfortunately, the approach that Qantas is now showing publicly has been a characteristic of the long-haul discussions and shows how this business would apparently prefer ultimatums to building consensus at this critical juncture,” he said in a statement.


Nissan’s new CEO willing to be fired if no turnaround at Japanese giant

Updated 18 February 2020

Nissan’s new CEO willing to be fired if no turnaround at Japanese giant

  • Makoto Uchida, who took over the top job in December, put his job on the line at the automaker’s shareholders’ meeting
  • Uchida pleaded with shareholders to be patient while he comes up with a plan by May to recover from crumbling profits

YOKOHAMA: Nissan’s new chief executive said on Tuesday he would accept being fired if he fails to turn around Japan’s second biggest automaker which is grappling with plunging sales in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Makoto Uchida, who took over the top job in December, put his job on the line at the automaker’s shareholders’ meeting, where he faced demands ranging from cutting executive pay to offering a bounty to bring Ghosn back to Japan after he fled to Lebanon.
Nissan’s worsening performance has heaped pressure on Uchida, formerly Nissan’s China chief who became its third CEO since September, to come up with aggressive steps to revive the company.
On Tuesday, Uchida, who was repeatedly heckled by shareholders, said he was ready to face dismissal if he failed to improve profitability at the company, which is on course to post its worst annual operating profit in 11 years.
“We will make sure that we steer the company in an effective way so that it is visible in the eyes of viewers. I will commit to this: if the circumstances remain uncertain you can fire me immediately,” he said.
Uchida, 53, did not give a timeframe for improving Nissan’s performance.
The new boss must prove to the board he can accelerate cost-cutting and rebuild profits at the 86-year-old Japanese giant, and that he has the right strategy to repair its partnership with France’s Renault, sources have told Reuters.
Uchida pleaded with shareholders to be patient while he comes up with a plan by May to recover from crumbling profits and a corporate shake-up following Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 over financial misconduct charges.
“If you can be patient a little bit longer, on a day-to-day basis you will be able to sense we are changing,” he said.
Ahead of the meeting, some shareholders demanded more clarity about Uchida’s plan.
“I just want to know what the plan for recovery is. At the moment, the share price has dropped again, and the value of the company has plummeted,” said a 70-year-old former employee who owns shares in the company.
“If this is the situation, part of me thinks that we would be better off with Ghosn ... If we don’t get a clearer vision of the path the company is taking, it will be a worry.”
Nissan’s shares are trading around their lowest level in more than a decade following its latest earnings.
Last week, Nissan cut its dividend outlook to its lowest since the 2011 financial year, after dwindling car sales drove the company to post its first quarterly net loss in nearly a decade.
Shareholders gathered at the extraordinary meeting in Yokohama to vote in new directors including Uchida and Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta.
Their appointments highlight a changing of the guard at Nissan, as shareholders were also voting on motions for former company stalwarts, CEO Hiroto Saikawa and COO Yashuhiro Yamauchi, to leave their board director positions.