Sunday, October 30, 2011

Traveler's Update: Government Seeks Court Order to Force Qantas Back into the Air

As this posting is filed, the Australian government has asked an emergency arbitration hearing to order Qantas to get its 108 airliners back into the air, after CEO Alan Joyce abruptly grounded Qantas' entire fleet on Saturday (October 29).

As a result, tens of thousands of stranded Qantas Airways passengers worldwide scrambled to reach their destinations today (October 30). To make matters worse, Joyce failed to even notify the Australian government of his action, which prompted it to seek court action to reverse Joyce's decision.

About 70,000 passengers who fly Qantas daily, were stranded at some 22 airports worldwide, although 60 flights already in the air continued on to their destinations

Qantas already had reduced and rescheduled flights for weeks after union workers struck and refused to work overtime out of concern that a restructuring plan would move some of Qantas' 35,000 jobs overseas.

COMMENT: Joyce said the airline could be flying again within hours if the three arbitration judges rule to permanently terminate the grounding and the unions' strike action. Unfortunately, though, his precipitous action created unnecessary discourse, that may sour thousands of Qantas passengers to never fly on the airline again.

Among the stranded passengers are 17 world leaders attending a Commonwealth Summit in the Perth, although the Australian government was helping them get home.

Booked passengers were being rescheduled on a 24-hour basis, with Qantas handling any costs in transferring bookings to other airlines. Yet, holiday bookings have already been canceled by passengers after unions warned travelers to fly other airlines through the busy Christmas-New Year period.

It is difficult to understand Joyce's reasoning, considering that Qantas is one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. Yet, the CEO's abrupt decision on Saturday would cost the carrier $20 million a day while the airline is grounded.

Until such time as the emergency hearing resolves the situation, all airline employees will nto be paid effective Monday (October 31).

We will keep our readers immediately abreast of any decision made at the arbitration hearing.

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