Court rejects Jetstar's meal break claim

  • 11/09/2015
Court rejects Jetstar's meal break claim

The Court of Appeal has agreed a New Zealand pilot employed by budget operator Jetstar should be able to take meal and rest breaks because he is not subject to Australian aviation law.

It has upheld an earlier decision by the Employment Court, which last year said Christchurch-based pilot Robert Greenslade should have been given breaks for the previous three-and-a-half years.

The Employment Court ruled Jetstar had misinterpreted the Employment Relations Act and failed "comprehensively" in its arguments against its obligations to provide breaks.

This afternoon, the Court of Appeal justices rejected Jetstar's appeal against that decision.

Jetstar had tried to argue its pilots' rest breaks were provided for under Australia's air operator's certificate, which was recognised by New Zealand's Civil Aviation Act.

However, the Australian provisions did not fall within the ERA provisions, the justices said.

According to last year's Employment Court ruling, Mr Greenslade flew an Airbus A320 domestically, to Australia and to Fiji and operated with scheduled turn-around times of 30 minutes for domestic fights and 40 minutes for international.

While on the ground, he was required to perform numerous duties, often leaving him no time to rest or eat. Pilots could eat on the flight deck, but only when the concentration of both pilots was not required - often impossible for some short-haul flights.

Mr Greenslade said during his eight-hour shifts he should be allowed to take three 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute break, while the plane was on the ground.

Jetstar argued the implementation of rest and meal breaks would have an impact on the airline's financial position because it relies on quick turn-around times for aircraft.