Regional Express pilots call end to strike... for now
DELAYED and cancelled flights due to Regional Express Airlines strikes have ended for the time being, as pilots return to the cockpit pending industrial negotiations.
Pilots around the country hung up their uniforms on Monday in protest at a staff shortage often forcing them into interstate trips of up to five nights.
They feared their work-home balance would only be further disrupted when REX opened its new base in Perth.
Australian Federation of Air Pilots industrial officer James Lauchland said services would be back to normal for the rest of the week.
"The action went ahead and there was a relatively good rate of participation from the pilot group," he said.
"We're currently focusing on getting an agreement and waiting to hear back from the company in relation to a proposal we put to them.
"We're also still in talks before the Fair Work Commission.
"The current problem is about pilots having to be out of home for extended periods.
"With the Western Australia base about to open up, they are thinking it isn't going to get better any time soon."
Mr Lauchland said brokering a deal was the group's core goal, and that pilots wanted to get back to work.
Almost a third of the airline's pilots took part in the strike.
"There won't be any more delays or cancellations this week, I can assure you of that," he said.
"However, beyond that I can't give any commitment.
"We initially wanted to do actions that would not impact on the travelling public.
"But (REX) responded quite aggressively and left us with virtually no other option.
"That's how it got to this point."
The AFAP has been in negotiations with REX for a new enterprise bargaining agreement for more than two years.
The federation says pilots are attracted to regional services, which draw lower salaries and fewer days off than major airlines, because of their family-friendly lifestyle.
Pilots now want a guaranteed maximum number of overnight trips they can be asked to perform under a new agreement.
A REX spokeswoman said the airline had not received formal notification by the AFAP of any future industrial action.
"However, should further action occur, Rex will implement contingency plans to minimise any impact of the action to passengers," he added.