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Turbulence ahead as union lays down ground rules for Virgin battle

Opinion

The Transport Workers’ Union has laid down the rules for its future with Virgin.

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Trust is key, the union’s national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“We need trust with new Virgin owners to ensure community expectations on a strong second airline are met,” Kaine said.

“We also need the Federal Government to stop the silent observation and adopt a plan for the entire aviation industry.”

The comments follow Bain’s decision to appoint Jayne Hrdlicka to replace Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah. Hrdlicka was previously the head of Jetstar and her role with Virgin is expected to focus on cost cutting, particularly pilot wages.

There is little doubt Kaine and the TWU are preparing for a full-on battle with Virgin and its competitor Qantas and he is already framing how it will roll out.

He said yesterday that the workforce had built trust with Scurrah who he described as tough but fair. They are unlikely to be words the TWU will attach to Hrdlicka.

But the truth of the Virgin issue is its costs were too high and it was not able to steal crucial market share from Qantas as a full service alternative.

Its hybrid model is clearly the only way forward, but we are likely to see fierce confrontation over the next year or so.

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