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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chief executive: 'this is a crisis for Qantas'

Australia's Qantas Airways all employees involved in the strike would be locked out from Monday evening with all international and domestic flights grounded from 0600 GMT on Saturday.

Total costs are estimated at A$68m (£42.8m) the company said.

The airline said in a statement that from Monday 31 October evening it would lock out all employees over a protracted industrial dispute with the engineers association, pilots, catering and ground handling associations.

An extended grounding would benefit domestic rival Virgin Australia and others such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Chinese carriers on international routes.

"We are locking out until the unions withdraw their extreme claim and reach an agreement with us," said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

"This is a crisis for Qantas. If the action continues as the unions have promised, we will have no choice but to close down Qantas part by part."

The unions have taken strike action since September over pay and opposing Qantas plans to cut soaring costs. The strike is the worst dispute the airline has faced since 2008.

Key high value domestic bookings on east coast routes are down by a quarter. November international bookings have fallen nearly 10 per cent, Joyce said.

It is looking at setting up two new airlines in Asia. It plans to cut 1,000 jobs and order $9 billion of new Airbus aircraft as part of a make over to salvage the loss making international business.

Approximately 70,000 passengers have been affected and more than 600 flights cancelled.

Aircraft currently in the air would complete the sectors they are operating. However, there will be no further Qantas domestic or international departures anywhere in the world, it said.

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