Qantas Cleared for Take-off as Flights Return to Normal

Following an unprecedented move by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce over the weekend to ground the airline’s entire worldwide fleet and lock out union workers in a dispute following layoffs, Qantas is confirming today that “all domestic and international services have resumed from mid-afternoon on Monday 31 October.”

FAIR Work Australia has terminated the chaotic industrial action between Qantas and the unions and its judges announced the ruling at 2am last night after Prime Minister Julie Gillard and her government took the matter before the tribunal in an emergency move.

The announcement, posted on the airline’s website says, “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and stress our customers have faced over the past days and months. Industrial action is now over, you can again book Qantas flights with confidence.”

To catch up with the backlog of flights that were grounded over the weekend, flight delays, cancellations and disruptions are expected as the airline returns its operations to normal and Qantas is advising passengers to visit the Flight Status section on its site for up to the minute information on specific flights.

Passengers who were booked on British Airways codeshare flights for Australian routes (meaning they would actually be flying on a Qantas plane) were unable to fly over the weekend, although those booked on a BA flight on a BA plane were not be affected as BA flights to and from Australia were operating normally.

Qantas has been updating its passengers via its website , Facebook and Twitter @QantasAirways

The financial impact of action taken to date has reached $68 million and the action is costing Qantas approximately $15 million per week in lost revenue. Approximately 70,000 passengers all over the world have been forced to find short term accommodation in hotels or switch to other flights although Qantas is offering compensation to cover food and hotel expenses and helping rebook passengers on to other flights. Over 600 flights have been cancelled.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague was believed to be among those affected by the cancellations. He was with seventeen world leaders attending a Commonwealth summit in Perth.

Mr Joyce said over the weekend that to agree to union demands "would destroy Qantas in the long term”, adding: "I’m actually taking the bold decision, an unbelievable decision, a very hard decision, to ground this airline.” He said that “grounding all the planes was the "fastest way to ensure the airline gets back in the air."

Qantas has a 65 per cent share of the Australian domestic market, but its international operation has been losing money and the airline is currently restructuring, resulting in 1,000 job losses out of a total of 35,000 jobs.

Three unions were involved in the dispute: The AIPA (Australian and International Pilots Association), Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA).

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