Qantas flights remain grounded for a second day after management of the Australian carrier took the drastic measure of grounding all international and domestic flights following long running industrial disputes.
The airline announced that as part of the move it will lockout engineers, pilots and other employees 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).
Chief Executive Alan Joyce said of the move that “every other option has been exhausted”.
Over 68,000 passengers have been stranded with 447 flights cancelled since flights were suspended, according to Qantas.
In Heathrow Airport alone, 1,500 passengers were stranded on Saturday after four flights that were due to leave were cancelled.
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 prime minister Julia Gillard commented: “I believe Australians want to see this dispute settled. I want to see this dispute settled and we have taken the appropriate action to bring this before the industrial umpire.”
Fair Work Australia has called emergency meeting to take place today. The tribunal can decide whether to order an end to industrial action by both unions and management.
While Qantas is aiming for the industrial action to end, the unions are seeking more time to negotiate.
Qantas has been 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 are available to passengers with cancelled flights.
Qantas is updating passengers on the situation via its website, Facebook and Twitter.