QANTAS will try to bypass striking union engineers by permanently increasing the amount of critical maintenance work done overseas, in a move that threatens to inflame the dispute disrupting the nation's airports.
As airline passengers prepared for more turmoil today after more than 20 flights were cancelled yesterday, Qantas said it planned to have overseas engineers in the US and London permanently conduct maintenance work on its fleet, reducing work available for Australian engineers.
After the engineers' union threatened more disruption after today in support of its 5 per cent pay claim, Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon revealed American engineers at Los Angeles International Airport had completed two full maintenance inspections - known as A-checks - on Qantas jets in the past 10 days.
Mr Dixon told The Australian that it was the first time that full inspections had been completed in Los Angeles and the airline was planning more full A-checks in other major cities - believed to include London - where Qantas jets had major downtime.
Qantas also hoped to increasingly use engineers based at Avalon in Melbourne, who are not part of the current dispute, to undertake maintenance inspections.
....The union's rolling stoppages forced disruption to more than 20 domestic and international flights yesterday, with at least a further 18 flights to be affected today when action is taken in Brisbane and Perth.
....Company sources said the increasing use of Los Angeles airport was designed to "send ashot across the bows" of theunion.
"We've done partial A-checks (at Los Angeles) before but we've never geared up to do full A-checks, which means they will no longer be done in Australia, it will be permanent," one company source said.
"If we can get it done elsewhere, it obviously means it is less work for their members."