Qantas Airways plans to cancel 31 flights tomorrow morning and delay several others as a result of a planned strike by its engineers.

The Oneworld carrier says 46 flights will be delayed during the morning peak hour tomorrow, after the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Union told 1,600 members to take industrial action over a new agreement on pay and working conditions.

The union's federal secretary Stephen Purvinas says in a fax to the airline that its members working for Qantas will stop work from 08:00hr to 09:00hr at all Australian ports. The strike will mainly affect the airline's domestic services, with a few delays to international flights. Jetstar and QantasLink flights are not affected.

"We are doing everything we possibly can to get passengers to their destinations including moving passengers on to later flights and upgrading services to larger, widebody aircraft," says Qantas group executive Lyell Strambi.

Calling the union's demands for wage claims "unreasonable and excessive", Strambi adds: "If Mr Purvinas is serious that his claim is only a 3.14% increase then we would accept that in a heartbeat but the reality is the cost of the claim is 28.6% over three years, with further increased costs being incurred in subsequent years bringing the real cost to above 36%."

The union is also likely to take industrial action on 16 and 17 May.

Purvinas says the union's wage claim is "only for two years" and adds that "they [Qantas] offered nothing in the way of job security".

"Other aspects of the claim on progression through the system are almost entirely offset by savings made by dropping salary increases," he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news