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3 May, 2021

Qantas customers second in line behind Rio Tinto charter flights

Qantas customers flying in and out of Weipa are experiencing a drop in customer service as a result of Rio Tinto’s growing FIFO workforce.

By Matt Nicholls

By MATT NICHOLLS

Long check-in times, lengthy waiting periods to get baggage and delayed flights are the result of Rio Tinto Weipa’s charter flight arrangements.

When the Alliance charters arrive on Mondays and Thursdays, Weipa’s airport staff struggle to cope with the workload.

This is because Rio Tinto schedules the flights to align with the Amrun ferry schedule.

Alliance flights are booked to land within a 15-minute window of the Qantas flights.

On Thursday, for example, the Alliance charter flight from Cairns left at 6.50am and landed at 8.05am.

The Qantas flight from Cairns departed at 6.57am and arrived at 8.22am.

Rio Tinto’s contractors and FIFO workers had their luggage and were on the bus bound for the Humbug ferry terminal within 15 minutes of landing.

Qantas customers had to wait more than half an hour to access their baggage.

At the departure building, the line was more than 50 metres long as passengers on the outbound Qantas and Alliance flights queued out in the weather.

Social distancing was not at all possible inside the terminal with two flights booked to depart at such close intervals.

Rio Tinto said it would review its flight times but confirmed that Alliance flights were aligned with the ferry schedule.

“The Alliance charter is scheduled to arrive and depart based on operational requirements, including aligning to bus and ferry timetables,” a spokesperson said on Friday.

“In response to the issues raised, we will review the flight times.

“We recognise the airport is a critical facility for the community and we are committed to ensuring it is operating safely and efficiently for the community.”


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