Lightning and bird strike ground Bali Jetstar 787s


A Jetstar 787-8, VH-VKF, departing from Sydney and as shot by Victor Pody
A Jetstar 787-8, VH-VKF, departing from Sydney and as shot by Victor Pody

Jetstar has blamed a freak series of events including a lightning and bird strike for grounding multiple 787s.

On Tuesday, it emerged the problems also led the budget airline to cancel flights to Phuket and Japan alongside its earlier cancellations to Bali.

According to Flightradar, the aircraft recently out of operation include Dreamliners VKA, VKB, VKI and VJK, while VKL hasn’t flown since June.

Jetstar chief pilot Jeremy Schmidt revealed, “Unfortunately, our Boeing 787 fleet has been impacted by a number of issues, including a lightning strike, a bird strike, damage from an item on the runway and delays sourcing a specific spare part for one of our aircraft due to global supply chain challenges. The part has to be road freighted across the US.

The Australian reports Jetstar is hoping to have seven in operation by the end of Tuesday, while four will remain grounded. Next week, three more should have returned to service.

The Qantas Group has tried to alleviate the issue by putting passengers on “special flights” to Melbourne as well as regular Qantas services.

It’s also offering credits, $150 per night towards accommodation and $30 per person for food.

Jetstar only restarted its popular service to Bali in March after a two-year COVID-19 pause. The island is the carrier’s most popular international destination, and a ticket sale to mark the restart saw the business’ biggest surge in bookings since 2016.

Pre-COVID-19, Jetstar operated up to 85 return flights per week to Bali, carrying more than 2 million customers annually, and contributing an estimated $2 billion Australian dollars to the local Balinese economy.

The airline initially flew from the Victorian capital three times per week, before adding Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns, and Darwin.

Indonesia dropped mandatory quarantine arrangements to Bali on 8 March and re-introduced its visa-on-arrival process for travellers from Australia and 23 other countries.

The bad news for the Qantas Group comes after the TWU revealed on Sunday morning that its Dnata ground handlers would strike for 24 hours on Monday, 12 September.

It comes after Qantas outsourced 2,000 in-house ground handling roles to third-party companies, including Dnata and Swissport, last year. The Federal Court twice ruled that decision breached the Fair Work Act, but crucially said those employees won’t be able to get their old jobs back and instead must accept compensation.

The strike could also potentially affect those travelling on Emirates and Etihad, which also utilise Dnata ground handlers.

The union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, argued his members are facing a “downward spiral of wages and conditions” and are only guaranteed 20 hours per week.

Dnata told Australian Aviation in response its pay offer was “highly competitive” and argued the TWU had shown “little willingness” to bridge the divide on outstanding issues.

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