Qantas Flights Grounded Worldwide
Qantas flights have been grounded worldwide Saturday for an indefinite amount of time in response to continued labor strikes over pay and working conditions.
Qantas unions are protesting the Australian airline's plan to create new Asia-based routes and carriers in response to growing demand in the region, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The unions, which represent engineers, baggage handlers and pilots, are upset about proposed cuts in pay and layoffs that will offset Qantas' rising costs. The airline says their demands are excessive and the two sides have been locked.
"They are trashing our strategy and our brand. They are deliberately destabilizing the company. Customers are now fleeing from us," Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said in a report from Reuters.
Unions are also upset that Qantas shareholders voted for significant pay raises to top-level Qantas executives.
The decision to ground all flights is unprecedented and especially untimely for some global leaders and members of Australia's government. Prime Minister Julia Gillard was hosting a Commonwealth leaders summit in Perth, and 17 world leaders were booked to fly out Sunday with Qantas, according to Reuters.
If negotiations aren't settled promptly, the Australian government may be forced to intervene. Senior officials and many Australians are afraid the disputes give the country a bad reputation and could be damaging to the national economy.