Qantas grounds entire fleet due to labour dispute

29 Oct 2011

Qantas announced it will ground its entire fleet of 108 aircraft, effective immediately, as a result of industrial action taken by the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA).

Consequently, there will be no domestic or international departures, although subsidiaries Jetstar, QantasLink and Jetconnect flights and Qantas' codeshare flights will continue. Cancelled flights include those to and from popular destinations in Asia, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo and Mumbai.

In a statement released today, Qantas announced it “will lock out all employees who will be covered by the industrial agreements currently being negotiated” with the unions.

This move will continue until ALAEA, TWU and AIPA “drop the extreme demands that have made it impossible for agreements to be reached,” Qantas explained. The timing of this move is unfortunate as it could carry on through the peak Christmas period.

The labour dispute is focused on Qantas’ plans to shift some operations to Asia, as reported earlier, with the setting up of Jetstar Japan (see story here) and a new premium carrier specifically tailored for the Asian market (see story here). Captain Richard Woodward, vice president of AIPA, said: “Alan Joyce and his team have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to convince the public that shifting the airline to Southeast Asia is necessary and that Qantas workers are somehow trying to destroy the company.

“Sixty-one per cent of Australians disagree with the proposition that ‘Moving some operations to Asia is necessary to ensure a strong future for Qantas’ versus just 21 per cent who agree with it.”

Grounding its entire fleet will have an estimated impact of A$20 million (US$21million) per day.

So far, the industrial action, which has been going on for almost a month, has cost the carrier A$15million (US$16 million) per week and led to the cancellation of more than 600 flights.

Passengers, whose flights have been cancelled by the grounding of fleet, will receive a full refund and “full rebooking flexibility will be available to customers who wish to defer their travels.”

For more information, visit

Alisha Haridasani

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