Airport disruption avoided after firies strike deal

Cassandra Morgan |

Holidayers will be spared airport delays with aviation firefighters calling off a strike.
Holidayers will be spared airport delays with aviation firefighters calling off a strike.

Air travellers will be spared major school holiday disruptions after aviation firefighters called off a planned strike. 

The United Firefighters Union of Australia announced on Thursday that aviation firefighters reached an agreement with Airservices Australia, negating the need for action.

A strike planned for four hours from 6am on Monday would not go ahead, a spokesman confirmed.

They said their members and Airservices Australia had reached an “in-principle agreement on a range of issues pertaining to the safety of Australia’s air travellers, including understaffing, firefighting resources and working conditions”.

“Aviation firefighters are satisfied that their key concerns have been addressed,” the spokesman said.

“Aviation firefighters will always put the protection of life first, and we are pleased that our industrial action has achieved our objective of ensuring we have the firefighters and resources to protect Australia’s air travellers when they need it most.”

The strike was set to cause major disruptions for travellers, coinciding with the start of school holidays in NSW and South Australia.

The union previously claimed risk assessments by Airservices Australia revealed Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide airports were at extreme risk if there was a fire or aircraft incident because of a lack of firefighting resources.

The union claimed Airservices kept the “leaked internal documents” hidden from the public, but they were provided to Senate estimates proceedings and made publicly available in October, 2023.

The documents showed travellers at 13 airports including Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide were at an “extreme risk” due to factors including shortages of trucks, staff, equipment and procedures.

Travellers at 14 other airports, including Sydney, Canberra and Hobart, were deemed “high risk” with the union saying that while they had more resources there were not enough to guarantee safety.

Airservices Australia denied its operations were unsafe and said the risk assessments were undertaken to guide staff planning.

The union was also demanding a pay rise of 20 per cent which Airservices said would cost the aviation industry and passengers an additional $128 million.

Airservices previously offered firefighters an 11.2 per cent pay rise in response to the demand.