Qantas says pilots approve pay deal covering Sydney-London flights


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Qantas aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd (AX:) said on Monday that pilots had voted in favour of a pay deal that would pave the way for the airline to fly the world’s longest non-stop commercial flights from Sydney to London.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline has cancelled all of its international flights through at least the end of May and pushed a decision on whether to order up to 12 Airbus SE (PA:) A350-1000 planes for the Sydney-to-London flights to the end of the year from an earlier deadline of end-March.

If the order proceeds, the non-stop flights from Sydney to London and other far-away destinations like New York could start in the first half of 2023.

Mark Sedgwick, the president of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), the union representing Qantas pilots, told Reuters that 85% had voted in favour of the agreement.

Earlier this month, AIPA told members the proposed pay deal was “unsatisfactory” but pilots should make their own call given an outsourcing threat and an uncertain economic climate, according to a memo.

The airline later announced plans to put two-thirds of its workforce on leave as it stopped international flying and made severe cuts to domestic flying.

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