Qantas, Tiger and Virgin Blue have all expressed anger or frustration over the incompetence of AirServices Australia over the past year, but after Sunday’s jet jam up at Sydney Airport, Virgin Blue wants it to pay up.

A spokesperson for Virgin Blue said this afternoon,

“We are still assessing costs relating to the full impact on our operations on Sunday, which include delays causing extra fuel burn, cancellations both in Sydney and other ports due to flow on effects, and overnight hotel accommodation for stranded guests as well as crews.

“Of course, it is disappointing to have this happen yet again when we believed that such issues had been addressed and we were past them. We will certainly be raising the issue with Government.”

The delays, which occurred throughout Sunday at Sydney Airport were caused by AirServices Australia only being able to field three out of ten rostered staff. It is just over a year since the air traffic control provider dismissed breakdowns in service as industrially motivated and insisted that the problems would be solved by the end of September 2008.

The situation last year caused Virgin Blue to demand $500,000 in compensation, while Qantas through its then chief pilot denounced the failure to provide radar separation as a safety issue and Tiger Airways said it was burning around two tonnes more fuel per flight to avoid flying through airspace left uncontrolled during staff shortages.

Asked whether AirServices had paid up, the Virgin Blue spokesperson said:-

“That issue is still under discussion with Airservices Australia and we are seeking to have it brought into consideration as we renegotiate our long-term pricing agreement which is up for renewal – particularly we are seeking to have performance level clauses built into that agreement so that they can be held accountable for poor performance levels as we experienced last Sunday. We are also waiting to learn if that bill will be incorporated into our annual rebate.”

Hmm! Performance level clauses built into agreements with with government owned service providers. This could cause a Virgin revolution in business-government relations, never mind a real blue.

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