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‘Nothing has changed’: Broome travellers left in the dark as Qantas pilot strikes expose poor communication

Katya MinnsBroome Advertiser
Broome passengers were left to find alternative flights as Qantas pilots went on strike.
Camera IconBroome passengers were left to find alternative flights as Qantas pilots went on strike. Credit: AAP

Broome travellers caught in the midst of the Qantas pilot strikes last week have shared their stories of scrambling to make other arrangements with little communication from the airline and no apology.

Pilots employed by a Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation walked off the job for 24 hours on October 4, forcing the cancellation of around half the State’s regional flights.

The strike comes as the Australian Federation of Air Pilots plans industrial action over a pay dispute, with the union demanding a 50 per cent pay rise for pilots.

Broome resident Luke Sexton was returning from a holiday overseas when his flight from London to Perth was delayed, prompting him to call Qantas to notify them of the change.

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“I was due to fly back to Broome on Tuesday but when my flight got delayed I had to fly back on Wednesday but wasn’t able to because there were no flights from Perth to Broome,” he said.

“The first I knew there were no flights on Wednesday was when I rang them on Sunday to let them know my flight had been delayed from London.

“I rang them on Sunday and they said ‘No you can’t have a flight on Wednesday’ and that the earliest they could get me back to Broome was on Thursday morning.”

Dr Sexton rang customer service to get more information but wasn’t told there was a strike occurring and that he could not get on a Qantas flight on Wednesday.

“I had to use another day of annual leave and return to work on Thursday instead of Wednesday,” he said.

“My colleagues had to scramble (at) late notice to cover my workload.”

Despite having access to the internet and his emails, Dr Sexton was not informed of the strikes and his flight change, nor was there an apology for the inconvenience.

“There was a lack of transparency — nobody minds if there are disruptions or changes as a transport industry, that’s fair enough, but people mind when things aren’t communicated well to them,” he said.

Broome local Christine Patterson was scheduled to fly to Perth on the Wednesday before her flight was affected by the strike. She received a $50 food allowance for the 24-hour delay.

“Good luck getting breakfast, lunch and dinner for that in Perth,” she said.

“We have to request it back, it’s just not reimbursed to you.

“Having dealt with Qantas previously I’m not holding my breath.”

Ms Patterson had to find an alternative flight from Broome to Perth and was left frustrated with the hassle of paperwork to receive the allowance.

“To fly back Virgin was going to cost over $800 each and through Nexus was going to take over six hours, so neither was really an option,” she said.

“I understand and support the pilots but after the new CEO’s apology — nothing has changed.”

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