Free flights offered in Qantas bid for loyalty

Free flights for Qantas passengers

Passengers caught up in last weeks Qantas grounding are to be wooed with free flights.

QANTAS passengers caught up in last week's grounding will be wooed with free flights to any Australian or New Zealand destination and extra loyalty points, the airline has announced.

The deal, offered to passengers who had bookings between last Saturday night and last Monday, is on top of refunds, accommodation and payments the airline made to thousands of people caught up in the industrial dispute.

The airline will give every passenger who held a ticket from 5pm on October 29 - the time the grounding took effect - until midnight on Monday a return economy ticket.

Qantas has taken advertisements in newspapers across Australia today announcing the offer.

When Qantas boss Alan Joyce announced the union lockout and grounding last Saturday, 64 planes carrying 7000 passengers were in the air. A further 13,000 were due to fly in to Australia in the 24 hours after Mr Joyce's announcement but Qantas estimated up to 68,000 people would be affected each day the grounding continued.

Yesterday, a Qantas spokeswoman could not say exactly how many passengers would qualify for the free tickets or how much the initiative would cost the airline. The flights will also earn frequent flyer points for passengers in the Qantas program.

It is understood a broader marketing push will include a focus on winning back corporate and government business lost to Virgin Blue, which caters for about 14 per cent of all government and public service travel.

Qantas will begin emailing affected passengers about the free ticket offer from tomorrow and bookings can be made from the end of this month for travel from December 14 and are valid for two years.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard faces mounting pressure to force employers to give the same notice as unions before taking industrial action in the wake of Qantas's shutdown.

The push comes amid anger in Labor ranks at how much power its own laws give to employers.

Labor MP Ed Husic said: ''We can't have employers seize on the precedent established by Qantas that they can just shut down, cause massive inconvenience, and handball disputes over to government.''

Another Labor MP, Mike Symon, agreed.

''If there's a provision for one side to give 72 hours notice, it would seem only fair and reasonable for it to apply to all sides.''

Workplace Minister Chris Evans said imposing an employer notice period could be considered in the review of the Fair Work Act due next year, but said it would have made no difference in the Qantas case.

Opposition workplace spokesman Eric Abetz said the Coalition would not back a move to impose a notice period on employers, but he would consider it if employers were given the right to lockout their workforce.