Qantas pilots call for inquiry over lockout

Long-haul pilots have called for a judicial inquiry, following a report that private couriers were booked to deliver lockout notices before the Qantas annual meeting last month.

Qantas's chief executive Alan Joyce has told a Senate inquiry under oath that the decision to ground all aircraft in preparation for a total staff lockout on November 1 was made on the morning of October 29, the day after shareholders met the company and approved a large pay package increase for Mr Joyce.

No mention of the fleet's imminent grounding nor a staff lockout was made at the shareholders' meeting.

But two couriers supplied written statements to the ABC's Lateline program last night saying that, in the days leading up to the Qantas grounding, drivers were booked to deliver lockout notices.

The two, who work for Direct Couriers, have remained anonymous.

They said that, on October 27, the day before the annual meeting, they were asked to work on Sunday, October 30, to help with a mass delivery of lockout notices to about 6000 Qantas staff members.

The statements are the latest in mounting evidence that Mr Joyce was planning to lock out staff long before October 29, but kept the plans secret from Qantas shareholders.

Evidence has also emerged that senior Qantas managers were flown to Singapore and Los Angeles on the Friday in preparation for the grounding the following day.

The Australian and International Pilots Association has today called for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of the Qantas grounding last month.

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They have argued that the fresh allegations against Mr Joyce are consistent with advice received by the union that about 3000 hotel rooms were booked in Los Angeles before the annual meeting.

The union's vice-president, Richard Woodward, said there were now grave questions over Mr Joyce's credibility.

“If these allegations ... are correct, it would appear Mr Joyce has lied to the Australian people and it would appear he has lied under oath to a Senate inquiry," he said.

“A judicial inquiry with the powers of a royal commission is now needed to get to the bottom of this and uncover the truth. The commission must look at whether shareholders were misled at the AGM and identify whether the public and the Qantas workforce were lied to."

AAP reports: Mr Joyce has dismissed the claims as "conspiracy theories", saying the decision was made at the airline's board meeting on Saturday, October 29.

Qantas then told the federal government of the decision that day at 2pm.

"We had plans going back weeks as contingencies for a lockout and a grounding ... but the decision was made on the Saturday," Mr Joyce told the Seven Network today.

"There is going to be conspiracy theories. The fact is the decision was made on the Saturday."

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