Sunday, October 30, 2011

Update: Mediator Orders Qantas Back into the Air Effective 10/31

Qantas' fleet of 108 airliners will be back in the skies at 22 airports beginning planes were set to fly again Monday (October 31), after a mediator ordered an end to a bitter industrial dispute that saw the carrier abruptly ground its entire fleet on Saturday (October 29). The ruling by will bring relief to tens of thousands of passengers left stranded. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said aircraft could be back in the air by Monday afternoon.

COMMENT: Justice Geoffrey Giudice, who ordered the airline back into the air, said that his decision will allow for further negotiations between Qantas and unions over the next 21 days to try and hammer out their differences. Qantas said more than 68,000 passengers on 447 flights were affected by the grounding of 108 aircraft in 22 cities, with frustrated customers venting their anger at hubs from Europe to Asia and the US West Coast.

The airline has said that the grounding of flights was aimed at ending three months of sporadic strikes by baggage handlers, pilots and engineers unions, which was costing Qantas US$16 million per week.

Unfortunately, after an explosive annual general meeting where union anger was directed at management, including criticism of Joyce over a steep pay raise he had been approved to receive, Joyce permitted anger to lead to his decision to abruptly shutdown the carrier, without carefully analyzing the ramifications, particularly as they relate to Qantas' customers.

Although Joyce's temper and that of the unions will soon cool, it is unlikely that that will be the case for Qantas passengers who may well think twice before booking their next flight on the carrier.

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