Qantas Airways has issued a third statement today, announcing that it was unable to reach an agreement with the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) and that they will now turn to arbitration by the Australian industrial court to resolve the dispute.

This latest announcement means that the airline's negotiations with all three unions representing pilots, engineers and ground staff have broken down and that the cases will all be heading for arbitration.

Qantas said that neither the airline nor the ALAEA sought a 21-day extension to negotiations. This is unlike the situation with the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), where both unions had asked for extensions but were turned down by Qantas.

The deadline for the carrier and the unions to resolve their disputes is 21 November. With no agreement reached, under orders issued by Fair Work Australia, binding arbitration will take place under its control.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the preferred option was to resolve the dispute through negotiations with the unions, but that it was "now time to let Fair Work Australia bring the matter to a close".

Joyce had also said there was some progress in negotiations concering the AIPA, but that they were eventually unable to reach a new agreement for the 1,600 longhaul pilots.

On negotiations with TWU, Joyce said the airline could not agree to all of the union's demands, including one that required the airline to "break the law" and hire only companies that have enterprise agreements in place with the TWU.

Fair Work had stepped in after the Oneworld member grounded all its domestic and international operations on 29 October in protest of the then ongoing industrial action. Over 447 flights were cancelled, affecting 68,000 passengers.

The grounding comes after several weeks of occasional industrial action by members of the three unions.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news