Pilots at the Tigerair have started industrial action which they say has the potential to disrupt flights during the busy January holiday period, as their unions and the budget airline remain at loggerheads over a new pay deal.
Starting Friday, union members at Tigerair will decline to be called into duty during rostered days off, annual leave or other days they are not rostered to fly.
"Most Tigerair pilots regularly work on their scheduled days off, meaning the company has come to rely on it as a normal business practice," said Australian Federation of Air Pilots industrial officer James Lauchland.
"This action simply involves pilots working to rule and refusing to offer this discretionary effort.
“If the company can’t find another way to crew these flights, we are likely to see a large impact on Tigerair flights during the busy January holiday period.”
Fellow union VIPA is also taking part of the action, which will cover about 90 per cent of Tigerair's 200 or so pilots.
Tigerair is already the most disruption-prone airline in Australia, with 40 per cent of its flights arriving late and 6 per cent of flights being cancelled in November, according to statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.
The work-to-rule provisions will run throughout January, except for on January 10 when the union and the airline will be at the Fair Work Commission for conciliation.
Mr Lauchland said it was not the pilots' preference to take action that could disrupt flights, but there was "no alternative left" after more than two years negotiation over a new enterprise bargaining agreement.
A spokeswoman for Tigerair, which is owned by Virgin Australia, said the airline was negotiating in good faith with the pilots and it looked forward to "reaching a mutually beneficial outcome as soon as possible".
AFAP had original threatened to implementing a number of potentially more disruptive measures before Christmas, but the Fair Work Commission ordered it to call that off because it had not notified the airline properly that it was taking that action.
The union has notified the airline again of those "go-slow" measures, and intends to be able to implement them from January 19.
The AFAP says it is seeking a deal that recognised pilots had not had a pay increase for over two years.