Jetstar pilot Rich Greenslade today won a tribunal case to have a break between shifts.
The Airbus A320 pilot, based out of Christchurch New Zealand, argued against Jetstar at an Employment Court stating that the airline was in breach of its obligations in not allowing pilots any time for a break during an aircraft turnaround.
Jetstar argued that there were practical issues in not allowing time for breaks during the turnaround and that any changes would undermine its operational efficiency, reduce the number of flights flown per aircraft and lead to a loss of income.
The court rejected this and said that Jetstar’s defenses “fail comprehensively”.
Airlines across the world are working hard to reduce turnaround times to an absolute minimum in order to maximize their efficiency and profits.
This case however highlighted the pressure that this puts on pilots with Jetstar aiming for a 40 minute turnaround on international flights and 30 minutes for domestic flights.
During those times pilots like Rich Greenslade are required to perform a number of duties including flight planning, aircraft preparation, completion of documentation, supervision and checking of load planning data.
These tasks clearly limit the time for the flight crew to get any form of proper rest or exercise with the exception of short toilet breaks. Except for the toilet breaks, possible only when the facilities are “enabled”, the crew are required to be in the cockpit at all times. In flight meals also often have to be consumed very quickly due to the limited cruising time on short haul flights.
The two parties must now come to a resolution within 60 days with the threat of a return to court if an agreement is not reached. A future agreement will likely apply to all Jetstar pilots with potential implications for other airlines too.