Company representative, Ian McCallum, attended the meeting on the second day to provide an update on the Virgin Australia Cadet program. The company is still in the process of selecting its preferred training provider, and is hopeful of making an announcement in the next couple of months.
The first intake of cadets for the ab initio program has been wound back from the earlier projections of 12 to 18 cadets, and the Company is now forecasting an average of 8 cadets each year (originally 25). The company was not in a position to commit to a commencement date other than it had a self-imposed deadline of 31 December 2012.
While the company still maintains there will no upfront costs for cadets, there has been some shift in the employment conditions for cadets since our last briefing in February. Cadets will be employed by Virgin Australia on individual contracts from the start of their cadetship, and will be paid a training salary of just less than $50,000. At the successful completion of the 18 month program, the cadets will be guaranteed employment on the ATR at Skywest on a secondment arrangement from Virgin Australia, but on Skywest terms and conditions, except that they will be paid 15% less than a Skywest First Officer ATR salary for a period of time. Previously the Company had expressed a clear view that once a cadet is in the seat of a Virgin/Skywest aircraft, there should be no differential in pay to other intake pilots. Upon completion of the minimum hours requirement (yet to be determined) at Skywest cadet pilots will then be offered a position in Virgin Australia’s domestic operation.
Whilst we see advantages in a cadet program there are a number of outstanding ‘industrial’ issues to work
through in its current form. We will raise our concerns with the company.