Saturday 29 October 2011

Breaking news - All Qantas flights worldwide grounded


Qantas grounds entire domestic and international fleet

Qantas has just announced that effective immediately there will be no further domestic or international departures of its aircraft anywhere in the world, with the carrier locking out all employees who will be covered by the industrial agreements currently being negotiated with the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Australian Licenced Engineers Union (ALAEA) and the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA).

CEO Alan Joyce said the step is being taken under the provisions of the Fair Work Act in response to the ongoing industrial action taken by the unions, with the lock-out in place until the unions drop their "extreme demands".

"Pilots, licenced engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff are essential to Qantas operations and the lock-out will therefore make it necessary for all Qantas aircraft to be grounded," he said, with this occurring effective 5pm Sat 29 Oct 2011.

Aircraft currently in the air will complete the sectors they are operating, but all future departures are cancelled "until the ALAEA, the TWU and AIPA drop the extreme demands that have made it impossible for agreements to be reached," Joyce said.

Jetstar and QantasLink flights will continue to operate, along with Qantas flights across the Tasman operated by its NZ-based Jetconnect subsidiary.

The lock-out is effective from 8pm AEDT on Mon 31 Oct, and until it commences all employees are require at work as normal and will be paid. Once it commences, employees who are locked out will not be required at work and will not be paid; employees working overseas will not be locked out and will continue to be paid; and all other employees are required at work and will be paid as normal.

Customers booked on Qantas flights should not go to the airport until further notice. Qantas is offering full refunds to customers who choose to cancel their flights, while full rebooking flexibility will be available to customers who want to defer their travel.

Customers who are mid-journey will be given assistance with accommodation and alternative flights, Joyce said, asking that only customers travelling within the next 24 hours call Qantas contact centres.

"Qantas regrets that this action has become necessary and apologises sincerely to all affected passengers," Joyce said.

He said the cost impact of the grounding would be $20 million per day, but said that the move was necessary because "customers are now f.leeing from us," with key high value customers now actively seeking to fly with other carriers because of the ongoing strike action uncertainty.

Joyce urged the union members to "consider their own interests and tell their leaders they want to reach reasonable and fair agreements that will be good for them and for Qantas".

MEANWHILE Virgin Australia has also just issued a statement saying it will accommodate Qantas passengers on current services where possible, and is also looking at putting on additional flights to support affected travellers.

Special "Stranded Passenger" recovery fares will be offered for those who are at a port away from home and hold a QF ticket to return home, initially within the next five days, with details to be shortly available at

More information in Monday's Travel Daily.

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