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“Sickening” – Qantas charged over major COVID safety failure

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Australia’s national carrier has been charged with workplace breaches after a cleaner raised concerns with aircraft coming from China during the early months of the pandemic

COVID-19 Qantas

Qantas has been charged with breaches of the New South Wales Work Health and Safety Act after standing down an employee who raised concerns about the exposure of workers to COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic, back in 2020.

SafeWork New South Wales confirmed on Tuesday that it filed the charges in the District Court of NSW against Qantas Ground Services on October 6, 2021.

“The charges relate to QGS standing down a worker who raised concerns about potential exposure of workers to COVID-19 while cleaning aircraft in early 2020.”

The Australian Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) confirmed the worker involved is Theo Seremetidis, a health and safety representative who allegedly advised colleagues to stop cleaning planes arriving from China in early 2020 due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

It is understood that Mr Seremetidis was directed by Qantas not to return to work on February 7, 2020, and was stood down on March 30 in line with the 20,000-plus other employees as a result of the pandemic and border closures. 

Reports state Qantas has reiterated a previously released statement, claiming that Mr Seremetidis was stood down for telling colleagues to take part in stop-work action without a reasonable basis to do so.”

Mr Seremetidis was directed not to come to work while he was investigated for failing to comply with our Standards of Conduct policy including allegations of attempting to incite unprotected industrial action,” a spokesperson for Qantas said.

“It’s worth noting that there was not a single positive COVID case carried on our flights back from China.”

Qantas said.

Transport Workers Union NSW State Secretary Richard Olsen says that the regulator’s decision to prosecute the Australian airline was a landmark moment for work health and safety across Australia.

Each charge – the exact number of which is not known – carries a maximum penalty of $594,021 if found guilty.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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United Airlines makes history, operating flight with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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The aviation sector is widely known to be a high-emissions industry, with aircraft contributing to a growing pollution problem – but United Airlines just made history, in a brilliant way

United Airlines on Wednesday operated the world’s very first flight that used 100% sustainable aviation fuel, known as SAF.

Flying a jet with more than 100 passengers from Chicago to Washington, DC, the flight was the first commercial flight ever using only renewable fuel.

In a statement United Airlines said: United is the world leader in the usage and support for the development of SAF, an alternative fuel made with non-petroleum feedstocks, already having agreements to purchase nearly twice as much SAF as the known agreements of all other global airlines combined.

SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country’s vast feedstock resources are enough to meet the projected fuel demand of the entire U.S. aviation industry.

“United continues to lead from the front when it comes to climate change action,”

United CEO Scott Kirby, who will fly onboard today’s historic SAF flight.

“Today’s SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we’re demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.”

The airline boss noted.
United makes history using 100% SAF fuel on domestic flight / Image: Supplied

Currently, airlines are only permitted to use a maximum of 50% SAF

The SAF used on the Dec. 1 flight is drop-in ready and compatible with existing aircraft fleets, United said.

The flight operated as a demonstration – to see how the jet would perform using only SAF fuel

The 737 MAX 8 used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine “to further prove there are no operational differences between the two and to set the stage for more scalable uses of SAF by all airlines in the future,” United said.

United partnered with other companies including Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum whose technology enables 100% drop-in SAF, and World Energy, the world’s first and North America’s only commercial SAF producer to make the flight possible.

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World airlines warn Omicron will hit travel again

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The aviation industry has warned the Omicron variant of COVID is set to impact the aviation industry once again

Airlines are starting to feel the effects of the new Omicron variant of COVID, with Emirates and easyJet both warning Tuesday of the risks to travel demand. Julian Satterthwaite reports.

The world’s airlines are bracing for a fresh impact from the Omicron variant.

On Tuesday (November 30) the strongest warning came from mideast carrier Emirates.

Company President Tim Clark warned that any hit to seasonal travel will be devastating for an industry already hit by two years of heavy losses:

“So, I would say probably by the end of December, we’ll have a much clearer position. But in that time, December is a very important month for the air travel business and if that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas in the business, certainly the aviation business and the periphery of that.”

UK budget airline easyJet says it’s already seeing a drop-off in demand.

It says resurgent health worries, including Omicron, have prompted people to rethink plans for city breaks.

Though it says the impact isn’t yet as bad as during earlier lockdowns.

On Tuesday the airline reported a loss of $1.5 billion for the year to the end of September.

Scandinavia’s SAS also said it remained in the red for the August to October quarter.

The latest warnings come after multiple countries including the U.S., UK, Japan and Israel imposed travel curbs in response to the new virus variant.

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Heathrow Airport opens dedicated terminal ‘red list’ arrivals terminal

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The United Kingdom’s biggest airports has opened up a dedicated hub to process arrivals coming from red list nations

This month, Heathrow Airport reopened Terminal 4, using the hub as a dedicated facility for processing passengers arriving from red list countries.

The airport stated that the measure would keep those arriving from destinations on the high-risk list away from other travellers, reducing the risk of exposure to COVID.

The red list has been resurrected with 10 countries in southern Africa put on it on 26 November due to concerns surrounding the new Omicron coronavirus variant, believed to have originated in South Africa.

Emirates plans to swap Boeing 777X for Dreamliner
Emirates arrival into London Heathrow / Image: File

People entering Britain from those locations must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel

The cost to pay for hotel quarantine is estimated at £2,285 for per passenger.

Heathrow first opened a facility for red list arrivals at Terminal 3 in June following concerns that allowing passengers to mix with those who had flown in from other locations could increase the spread of the virus, and drive up cases in the country.

It was later switched to Terminal 4, however programme was closed in early November following the removal of the final seven countries on the list.

Tougher travel rules introduced by the government include requiring fully vaccinated people entering the UK to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a PCR test.

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