At a press conference this morning Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said big business, small business and major shareholders had given their support for his ‘courageous’ actions in grounding the fleet on Saturday.
He explained that Qantas had grounded the fleet because the industrial action that was killing Qantas with a thousand cuts was not sufficient for it to apply directly to Fair Work Australia to intervene on the basis of harm to the national economy.
Joyce said the FWA ruling had brought certainty for shareholders, for customers and for employees.
He said Qantas had made it very clear to the government and opposition in recent weeks that it was very clear that forward bookings for Qantas flights were collapsing and that the ‘very survival’ of the airline was in question.
There will be a full report on the Crikey Daily Mail this afternoon, followed by a further report here on Plane Talking.
Fair Work Australia has ordered the termination of all industrial action in the Qantas disputes, meaning that the airline will be required to resume flights as soon as possible, a process expected to start in the second half of today.
In a decision handed down just after 2 am the tribunal says that its prime consideration was to prevent the Qantas decision to ground its fleet on Saturday afternoon from damaging the national economy and in particular harming the tourism industry.
Under the FWA laws Qantas and its long haul pilot, licensed engineer and ground handling unions now have a 21 day period in which to reconcile their differences, at the end of which the tribunal can consider an application for a further 21 day period for conciliation, or make a binding arbitration on the parties in the absence of an agreement.
The ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence was the first to respond to the decision, saying that it recognised that union action was not in itself causing significant harm to the economy, but that the risk arose from the actions of the airline.
Qantas said yesterday that its grounding had stranded 68,000 of its passengers, with approximately 13,000 of those being overseas.
Because of strong demand and tens of thousands of additional passengers with Qantas bookings for flights today and later in the week, substantial delays to some passengers may persist for several days.