Qantas ordered to resume flights after grounding fleet
Australian airline starts flying as unions and management are ordered to negotiate
AUSTRALIAN airline Qantas has resumed flying, two days after it dramatically grounded its entire fleet, after an industrial tribunal ordered that the carrier and trade unions end their dispute and put planes back in the air.
Thousands of passengers were left stranded when the airline's management stopped all Qantas flights because of its ongoing battle with unions over wages, working conditions and the company's plan to base more of its operations in Asia.
The decision to ground the fleet was taken by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. The Guardian described the move as "one of the most extraordinary acts of industrial brinkmanship of recent times", which forced independent arbiter, Fair Work Australia, to put an end to the industrial action and order the unions and airline back to the negotiating table. They now have three weeks to reach an agreement.
Joyce said he was "delighted" by the result and apologised to passengers for the disruption. But The Daily Telegraph reported that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she did "not accept" that the airline had no choice.
Plenty of celebrities were caught up in the chaos that ensued after Qantas cancelled all its flights. Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill made his feelings known on Twitter. He wrote: "Dear Qantas, u suck, thanks 4 fucking up my trip 2 Oz."
The Herald Sun reported that celebrities attending the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne were affected. Sarah Jessica Parker and Dita Von Teese were forced to find other flights out of the country.
The Queen, who had been in Autralian on an official visit, escaped the chaos, flying home on a British Airways flight before the grounding.