Australian carrier Qantas has grounded all international and domestic flights indefinitely due to an industrial dispute.
Qantas has also announced a lockout of engineers, pilots and other employees, to take effect from Monday night.
This step being taken under the provisions of the Fair Work Act, follows a long-running standoff between Qantas and three unions: the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA).
The financial impact of action taken to date has reached $68 million and the action is costing Qantas approximately $15 million per week in lost revenue. Approximately 70,000 passengers have been affected and more than 600 flights cancelled.
“We are locking out until the unions withdraw their extreme claim and reach agreement with us,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce commented.
He added: “This course of action has been forced upon us ... by the actions of three unions,”
He claimed that the ball was now in the union’s court.
The estimated financial impact of the action on Qantas is $20 million per day as 108 aircraft will be grounded in 22 airports around the world.
The Australian Government has disclosed its concern for the future of Qantas, its workforce and the travelling public.
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese revealed that the government planned to make an application to Fair Work Australia over the dispute.
Qantas is offering hotel accommodation and alternative flights to those who were in the middle of their journey when the fleet was grounded.
Meanwhile refunds and ticket transfers will be available to passengers with cancelled flights.
Qantas is updating passengers on the situation via its website, Facebook and Twitter.