A Qantas Airways pilots’ union is to launch legal action against the carrier in the hope that it will jeopardise a proposed takeover by a private equity group.

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) says in a statement that it will today launch legal proceedings in Australia’s Federal Court that “could put in doubt the private equity takeover of Qantas”.

It says the action is being launched under the 1992 Qantas Sale Act, seeking a ruling that the current operation of international services by Qantas’ low-cost unit Jetstar is unlawful. It claims that Qantas is in breach of Section 7(f) of the Qantas Sale Act, which prevents it from operating international passenger services under any other name.

“If our case succeeds the entire Jetstar International strategy – where a separate entity is created to hollow out Qantas – would breach the Qantas Sale Act and the minister for transport would be obliged to intervene,” says AIPA president Capt Ian Woods.

“The Qantas Sale Act was established when Qantas was privatised to protect the public interest. It is more relevant now than ever with the private equity raiders poised.”

Qantas shareholders are currently assessing an offer from a group of local and foreign investors seeking to take over the airline for more than A$11 billion ($8.7 billion). Unions have expressed opposition to a takeover, fearing it will lead to job losses.

AIPA says it is the largest pilot body in Australia, representing more than 2,300 pilots and flight engineers working for Qantas Group carriers Qantas Airways, Australian Airlines, Jetstar, Eastern Australia Airlines and Sunstate Airlines.

Source: FlightGlobal.com