Canberra: Tens of thousands of stranded
Qantas Airways passengers worldwide scrambled to get to their
destinations Sunday after the airline abruptly grounded its
global fleet over a dispute with striking workers.
Australia`s government sought a court order to force the
flagship carrier`s planes back in the air.
Australian officials expressed frustration over the
sudden action by the world`s 10th-largest airline and asked an
emergency arbitration hearing to order Qantas to fly in
Australia`s economic interests.
"It`s not our place to start allocating responsibility,
but what I also know is there is a better way to resolve these
matters ... than locking your customers out," Australian
Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten told reporters ahead of the
arbitration hearing in the southern city of Melbourne.
"We want more common sense than that."
About 70,000 passengers fly Qantas each day, and they
were stuck in airports around the world trying to make
alternate arrangements after Qantas announced yesterday that
it had grounded all flights until unions reach an agreement
with the company.
Qantas already had reduced and rescheduled flights for
weeks after union workers struck and refused to work overtime
out of worries that a restructuring plan would move some of
Qantas` 35,000 jobs overseas.
A court heard testimony today in an emergency arbitration
hearing called by the government.
Qantas CEO Alan 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
The unions want the judges to rule for a suspension so
that the strikes can be resumed if their negotiations with the