Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Qantas flights cleared for take-off

Qantas Airways has resumed flying as Australia's air safety authority cleared it to do so, after it grounded its entire fleet amid a bitter union dispute.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said the agency had given the Australian flag carrier the green light to return to the air.

A flight from Sydney to Jakarta, Indonesia, took off shortly after the airline received the all-clear.

The world's 10th-largest airline grounded its entire fleet on Saturday following weeks of strikes by its workers.

The move stranded thousands of passengers across the world and prompted the government to order an emergency court hearing.

On Sunday an arbitration court ordered an end to the strikes and cancelled a staff lockout by the company.

The three-day grounding disrupted the travel plans of tens of thousands of people across the world and Qantas passengers were gathering at airports in Australia and Los Angeles in the hope of finally getting to their destinations.

The arbitration court ruling was a major victory in the airline's battle with unions representing pilots, aircraft mechanics, baggage handlers and caterers, whose rolling strikes have forced the cancellation of 600 flights in recent months, disrupted travel for 70,000 passengers and cost Qantas 70 million Australian dollars (46.5 million).

But some aviation experts said the surprise grounding of all 108 planes on Saturday, at a cost of £12.4 million a day, has hurt the Australian flagship carrier's reputation around the world.

Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard had described the grounding as "extreme", while transport minister Tony Albanese sharply criticised Mr Joyce for giving the government only three hours' notice of his plans.


From Belfast Telegraph