Live coverage: Qantas ordered back in the air

Qantas planes should be back in the air by the end of the day after last night's Fair Work Australia ruling to terminate the industrial dispute that has crippled Australian air travel. Keep up to date with the latest rolling coverage here. All times in AEDT.

4.37pm: Now that the national carrier is back in the sky, it's time for us to finish our live blog, and say thank you for being with us this past couple of days as this story has developed. Thank you for your comments, your tips, your photos and your stories. What an incredible 48 hours from the moment Alan Joyce grounded the entire national and international fleet on Saturday evening. Be sure to keep coming back to our sites for further updates. Here's our brief summary of the past 24 hours.

 

  • First flights leave Brisbane airport around 4.12 (EST)
  • CASA gives Qantas the all-clear to resume normal service.
  • Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the airiline will recover market share and expand despite losing more than $100 million in the dispute.
  • Qantas shares jump more than six per cent in early trading on the Australian Stock Exchange, following Fair Work Australia's decision to terminate industrial action.
  • The day begins with certainty Qantas will resume air travel, though only with CASA approval.
  • Fair Work Australia decides early on Monday morning to terminate industrial action against Qantas following a marathon hearing

4.25pm: Word just through from our reporter on the ground in Brisbane, Bridie Jabour. The first Qantas flight out of Brisbane since the grounding is officially airborne.  

I believe the action by Qantas was an extreme action to take. It has caused chaos for the travelling public.

4.15pm: Flights have reportedly left Perth for Karratha, Paraburdoo and Kalgoorlie. Back to work for the FIFO brigade.

4.10pm: Surf star @Sally_Fitz is stoked with Qantas being up, up and away, tweeting "Stoked green lights are go with flights and I'm off to take on Bali with @Roxy crew.cant wait :)"

4.01pm: Stephanie Gardiner retweets what everyone's been been waiting for: "CASA approves Qantas return to service."  

3.52pm: Boarding has finally started for QF533 from Brisbane. The announcement started: "hello everyone, it is our pleasure to announce boarding is open for QF533 to Sydney..." The real pleasure, we imagine, would be that of the passengers!

The line-up for first flights out of Brisbane. Photo: Bridie Jabour

3.50pm: And they're off...well, OK, the Melbourne Cup isn't until tomorrow but gates have opened in Sydney for flights to Jakarta, Dallas and Los Angeles.

3.44pm: Update of events as they have panned out today.

  • Qantas flights out of Brisbane and Sydney are close to resuming, with aircraft beginning to upload cargo and passengers.
  • CEO Alan Joyce says the airline will recover market share and press ahead with plans to set up an international business in Asia despite incurring more than $100 million in lost earnings.
  • Fair Work Australia last night resolved to terminate the industrial action being waged by both Qantas and the three unions with which it has clashed - the Transport Workers Union representing ground staff, the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association and the Australian and International Pilots Association.
  • The parties have 21 days to work out an agreement, otherwise they will be forced into mandatory arbitration and the industrial umpire will resolve the dispute.
  • Whatever happens, neither side is permitted to take any industrial action from this point, meaning certainty for passengers.
  • However, the TWU has signalled it may appeal the ruling on the termination.
  • The market has embraced the new atmosphere of certainty, with Qantas shares up more than 6 per cent in early trading today. Virgin Australia shares are also responding well, up almost 7 per cent.
  • But customers have been less forgiving, with Qantas copping a spray online from passengers and celebrities, including Joan Collins and Kings of Leon.
  • Alternative transport options have also been swamped, with people rushing for trains, buses and hire cars.

3.35pm: WA's Chamber of Mineral and Energy allays fears the Qantas shutdown has hurt the nation's mining sector. CMEWA chief executive Reg Howard-Smith says impact was "minimal", with fly-in, fly-out workers in the Eastern States the worst affected. BHP Billiton also says it doesn't expect the ground to have had any significant impact.

3.29pm: A Qantas baggage handler has written an open letter to Australians, explaining why his union (TWU) has taken industrial action. Read it here.

3.24: Tweet from @QantasAirways reminding customers that Jetstar and Qantaslink flights are operating as normal. That's nice of them!

3.18pm: Wendy Kingston reports via Twitter: ''Watching a live feed from Sydney airport - The first plane filled with people is about to take off from there''.

3.12pm: The latest from Brisbane. Announcement over the speakers at Gate 17, with Qantas apologising profusely and telling passengers QF533 has been delayed due to safety checks.

3.07pm: Some great stuff here from Cat Dunn, who is visiting Brisbane for a week from the US. She flew from Denver to Sydney on Saturday, then found herself stuck at Sydney airport, with Qantas compensating her with a $20 food voucher and one phone call. "It was like, 'Oh, I'm in jail!'," she quipped. Ms Dunn is now, like hundreds of other passengers, at the gates and waiting for CASA approval of takeoff.

3.04pm: Stephanie Gardiner reports that the Qantas board may have deliberately allowed Joyce to take the heat on the grounding, in an attempt to shield the brand. 

3.01pm: Fair bit of Twitter activity about passengers being asked to disembark flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney because of a delay in CASA approval. More information as it comes to hand.

2.57pm: Qantas will recover market share and press ahead with plans to set up an international business in Asia despite incurring more that $100 million in lost earnings, the airline's boss says. But Alan Joyce has declined to revise the airline's outlook or offer a profit guidance following a two-day fleet grounding in response to industrial action, which has cost $20 million a day on top of $68 million in lost earnings since August. More on that story.

2.51pm: First Qantas flight out of Brisbane is loading up its cargo.

2.40pm: Latest update from our reporter at Brisbane airport Bridie Jabour. First flight scheduled out of Brisbane now won't be leaving until 2pm (Queensland time).

 2.36pm: Alan Joyce has been a constant presence in the news since the Qantas dispute blew up on Saturday. But how is the man who stopped Australian aviation handling the pressure? This range of photos from Herald photographer Kate Geraghty gives an insight into the man as he fronted a press conference this morning.

2.30pm: Interesting to note response from Queensland TWU today, given the national secretary had said an appeal of last night's Fair Work Australia ruling would be considered.  Baggage handler and Queensland TWU delegate Peter Seage has said "personally I don't think the decision should be appealed".

2.28pm: A spokesman from CASA said they would give Qantas the go ahead to fly as soon as possible, but couldn't give an exact time frame. "We're still working through a few issues with them," he said. 

2.22pm: Reports from Sydney and Brisbane airport that Qantas flights are still being delayed as the airline awaits approval from CASA to return to the skies. Passengers for flights that were listed to take off from 2pm (AEDT) are continuing to wait. Food update: tweet from Channel 10 US correspondent @danielsutton10, that no meals will be served on Qantas flight leaving LA tonight. Passengers are being given $50 to buy food to take aboard.

2.19pm: For those wondering what exactly went down at the dramatic Fair Work Australia hearing last night, here's a recap.

2.13pm: Qantas shares are holding on to most of their gains, and were recently up 6.5 cents, or 4.2 per cent, to $1.61. Virgin Australia shares were at their highest since February, trading up 2 cents, or 5.6 per cent, to 38 cents. Volume is heavy in both, running at about twice their full-day average over the past year with about two hours of trading to go.

1.42pm: Whoa, seems like we're not there yet. An announcement has just been made over Sydney's domestic terminal PA system, saying that Qantas is still "waiting for approval" from CASA for flights to resume.

1.28pm: An update from the markets, where Qantas remains up 5.2 per cent for the day.

1.24pm: OK, so the flight times have been cleared up. First flight out of Sydney is due to be QF439 to Melbourne, departing at 2pm. Flights to Cairns, Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide will leave soon after. 

Meanwhile, Qantas has this advice for international customers:

  • Those booked to depart from Los Angeles on Sunday 30th or Monday 31 October (local time) have been told to travel to the airport as normal.
  • Customers departing Singapore on QF32 today should go to the airport to check into their flight.

1.20pm: We're still trying to confirm what time flights will be in the air today. Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has said the Civil Aviation Safety Authority expects Qantas flights to resume from 3pm. Our reporter at Sydney airport is looking at whether the flights listed below (see 12.49pm), will be departing and if so, when - given the disconnect between their boarding and departure times.

1.10pm: The bigger story looming behind the Qantas showdown is that after decades of decline, key unions are on the way back and we’ll all end up knowing it, writes Fairfax's Michael Pacoe.

"Helped considerably by the federal government’s Fair Work legislation making industrial action easier and work places more accessible for unions, compounded by a plethora of awards expiring in close order, some of the bad old ways of industrial conflict are set to make a comeback," he predicts.

Pascoe says the situation is being inflamed by arrogant and out-of-touch boards who defend excessive wages for management with seemingly no comprehension of - or respect for - the frustrations of shareholders and the public at large.

12.57pm: The head of Qantas and the head of the country continue to trade barbs over who knew what when and what could have been done about it, Jacqueline Maley reports.

According to the PM, Alan Joyce at no time asked the government to intervene in the airline's dispute with unions.

''Let's be very clear here about the timeline and what happened. On Friday, Qantas was saying it was in the business of negotiating this dispute," Julia Gillard said today.

''Two o'clock Saturday, Alan Joyce contacts our Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, and says the planes will be grounded at 5pm.

''It wasn't put as a topic for discussion or as an option - he was just advising Minister Albanese it was happening.''

12.49pm: It looks as though QF926 to Cairns will be the first Qantas flight to take off from Sydney's domestic terminal today, at 1.25pm, at least if the departure boards at the airport can be believed. Flights to Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane will follow soon after.

12.34pm: This graph highlights the large spike in Twitter traffic mentioning 'Qantas' over the weekend, which saw the airline, as well as CEO 'Alan Joyce' and federal minister 'Anthony Albanese' all become worldwide trending topics, indicating at least 1000 tweets a minute.  

The airline has been widely criticised for its wooden, impersonal approach to the public via social networks, with at least one expert putting this down to the huge demand.

12.28pm: Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has rejected Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s suggestion the airline could have gone to the industrial tribunal rather than calling a snap lockout.

Ms Gillard has criticised Qantas for taking ‘‘an extreme approach’’ by grounding its fleet on Saturday afternoon.

But Mr Joyce rejected Ms Gillard’s suggestion he could have taken the matter to Fair Work Australia (FWA).

‘‘The option of going to Fair Work Australia, in terms of the national interest which she is referring to, wasn’t available because there wasn’t sufficient impact on the national interest ... that was our advice,’’ he said.

Mr Joyce refused to say if he would have cancelled the lockout if Ms Gillard had called him on Saturday afternoon.

‘‘I’m not going to go through hypotheticals,’’ he said. ‘‘We didn’t call on Julia Gillard or the government to intervene, the unions didn’t call on the government to intervene.’’

12.22pm: Back in Brisbane and travellers Aaron Anderton and Marcus Betts have Qantas boarding passes! The pair are among the first to check in for a Qantas flight today. They are scheduled for a 3.25pm flight to Sydney, nearly 10 hours later than their original 6am flight.

The pair were actually hoping to be grounded until tomorrow. "We wanted to get a free hotel and maybe go to the races tomorrow in Brisbane," said Marcus. "The only thing we are missing is work; we're not fussed." We can only hope their bosses aren't reading ...

12.18pm: "How many more flight cancellations can we take?" asks travel journalist Clive Dorman. After floods, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis and ash clouds, this airline disaster was purely man-made. So can Qantas recover? The result will probably hinge on readers' answers to Clive's final question: Will the events of the past two days influence your choice of airline for a trip you have planned in the next year?

12.11pm: A sign at T3 at Sydney Airport is currently telling Qantas passengers: "We will fly mid-afternoon (pending approval)".

Meanwhile, Jonathan, a shift manager at a food outlet on the arrivals floor of T3, said customers numbers had been down 50-80 per cent.

"Yesterday, we had half the day's business - just over 100 customers," he said, adding that most of his customers were either airport staff or passengers on the hourly Qantas Link flights to Canberra, which were not affected by the grounding.

His numbers were echoed by Reza, a barrista at a nearby coffee store who said he had about 30 per cent less customers than on a normal day.

Jonathan, who asked that his outlet not be named, said a sister store on the departures floor was closed yesterday because of a lack of customers - and staff members lost their shifts.

"The feeling that we are getting [from the staff working at the airport] is that Alan Joyce is only worried about the money Qantas is making. But what about the other stores in the airport?" he said.

11.55am: Here's an update of events as they have panned out today:

  • Qantas flights will resume this afternoon, possibly by 2pm, as the airline awaits clearance from the air safety regulator.
  • Fair Work Australia last night resolved to terminate the industrial action being waged by both Qantas and the three unions with which it has clashed - the Transport Workers Union representing ground staff, the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association and the Australian and International Pilots Association.
  • The parties have 21 days to work out an agreement, otherwise they will be forced into mandatory arbitration and the industrial umpire will resolve the dispute.
  • Whatever happens, neither side is permitted to take any industrial action from this point, meaning certainty for passengers.
  • However, the TWU has signalled it may appeal the ruling on the termination.
  • The market has embraced the new atmosphere of certainty, with Qantas shares up more than 6 per cent in early trading today. Virgin Australia shares are also responding well, up almost 7 per cent.
  • But customers have been less forgiving, with Qantas copping a spray online from passengers and celebrities, including Joan Collins.
  • Alternative transport options have also been swamped, with people rushing for trains, buses and hire cars.

11.45am: Computer says no! Qantas has copped a pasting over its mechanical, impersonal social media response to the grounding of its fleet and the ensuing customer chaos.

11.36am: The first Qantas international flight out of Brisbane Airport today is the 1.40pm to Singapore and it looks like it might actually take off.

British travellers Lee and Mia Robins were hoping they might get to extend their holiday but have been told their flight is likely to take off.

Lee and Mia Robins. Photo: Bridie Jabour

"I'm actually surprised at the lack of activity here," said Mr Robins. "I thought there would be people sleeping overnight in the terminal but there is hardly anyone around.

"This happens all the time in England, but when BA (British Airways) go on strike it's absolute bedlam at Heathrow."

The are three other international Qantas flights scheduled for Brisbane today and all of them have take off times from 4.30pm onwards.

11.32am: Qantas appears to have failed the public relations test, with the online reaction scathing towards the airline and CEO Alan Joyce in particular.

11.28am: Today's first "Qantas" flights out of Melbourne have started going up on the departures board, with Melbourne-Adelaide at 12.40pm due to be first cab off the rank. This will be a code-share with Jetstar.

"Mr Branson will be rubbing his hands together," said passenger Rhonda Cameron as she arrived in an extremely busy Virgin Blue departure hall at Tullamarine Airport, where hundreds are waiting to check in. A staff member said "we are pretty close to capacity. We have put on extra flights."

Waiting at Tullamarine. Photo: Jason South

Samantha Parle, a history teacher from Queensland, came to Melbourne for a conference on Thursday and was due to fly back on Qantas at 2pm yesterday. She got a text at 11am that her flight was cancelled, but she’d already rebooked with Virgin Blue.

"The Virgin website had a link that directed affected Qantas passenegers," she said.

She found a seat on an 11am Brisbane flight and arrived at the airport at 8.45am. "We were expected it to be very busy but it’s actually moving pretty quickly," she said.

11.18am: Rock band Kings of Leon are the latest to tweet their rage toward Qantas. This from drummer Nathan Followill after the band's tour was disrupted by the flight grounding.

And burlesque celebrity Dita Von Teese has also tweeted her displeasure.

11.03am: Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon is also holding a press conference this morning. He said the union, which represents Qantas ground staff and baggage handlers, is considering appealing against the decision to halt industrial action for the next 21 days.

  • "If the company negotiates in good faith, which is what we're expecting the company to do, the next 21 days we will not be taking industrial action. We are also considering with our legal advisers whether we should appeal this decision."

Mr Sheldon said the union was determined to reach an agreement and settle its protracted wage negotiations, which have dragged on for five months.

Alan Joyce. Photo: Lee Besford

10.53am. Here are the main points to come out of Alan Joyce's latest press conference.

Qantas will be returning to "business as usual" over the next 24 hours, and international and domestic services would start resuming from this afternoon.

He rejected suggestions he go to Fair Work Australia earlier. "There wasn’t sufficient impact on the national interest for that to be successful, that was our advice."

Mr Joyce said he had no option but to ground all Qantas planes. "It was the only way we could bring it to a head."

Alan Milne, head of Qantas's integrated operations centre, says services will be able to restart as soon as the airline's safety case has approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). "It's a bit of testament to the engineers on the floor that they have managed to keep the aircraft as stable and in ready-to-go condition during this phase."

Mr Joyce again apologised to all Qantas customers, adding he felt the Qantas brand would recover. He also said the airline would "continue to get the backing of the Australian government because Qantas is so important".

He also was confident the airline would recover its 65 per cent market share of Australian aviation.

10.52am: There were at least 15 Qantas staff on hand to serve passengers at the international check-in desks this morning, although at any given time, there were only up to five people querying about their flights.
A Qantas staff member declined to comment about how the passengers were behaving towards her and her colleagues this morning, saying she was not allowed to speak to the media. But she did added that passengers "have been great".

10.51am: The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says Qantas won’t suffer any longer-term damage in Asia as long as its industrial dispute is resolved quickly. But chief executive Peter Anderson has told ABC that Asian economies are not used to large scale and prolonged industrial action.

10.49am: If you want to read the full text of the Fair Work Australia decision, here is the link.

10.34am: Joyce says Qantas is "resilient". The market seems to believe him:  Qantas stock is now up as much as 8 cents, or 5.2 per cent, to $1.625. Volumes are heavy for both Qantas and Virgin Australia.

More than 11.5 million shares have changed hands for Qantas, or more than the 14.5 million average daily trade over the last year.  Virgin shares are also busy: 12.12 million versus 11.4 million full-day average - in the first 25 minutes.

10.30am: When the Melbourne-bound CountryLink train left Sydney's Central Station this morning, there were only four seats from 365 still available – about 100 fewer vacancies than normal.

Among the many Qantas passengers on board was Karan Solanki, 24, and his parents Umesh and Balwant, who were visiting him from India. They were due to fly with Qantas at 6.30pm this evening, but decided to take the 11-hour train trip rather than risk being stranded tonight.

"I called Countrylink and they told me they were selling out," he said.

Mr Solanki saw some of the weekend's chaos first-hand yesterday. He works at a bar next to the Qantas international check-in at Sydney Airport.

"It was pretty crazy yesterday," he said. "The queue was actually in front of our bar."

After spending $495 on three tickets, he said he was done flying with Qantas "forever and ever".

"My girlfriend she told me don't book it, they are cheapest because nobody wants to take it, but I booked it and look what happened. I might chuck my frequent flyer card away as well. It’s just not worth it, you know?"

Karan Solanki 24 (second from right) talks to his parents Umesh Solanki 48 (left) and Balwant Solanki 55 (2nd from left). Photo: Kate Geraghty

10.20am: Professor Michael Miller and his wife Susan said they were at Gate 10 of the international terminal, waiting to board the 5.55pm QF1 flight to London via Bangkok on Saturday, when they were told their flight was cancelled. Mr Joyce's announcement was made just a short while before.

Michael and Susan Miller Photo: Glenda Kwek

"The staff of Qantas have been excellent," he said. "Many of them were unaware of the dispute at the time and were only informed by the media. They were not sure they were going to be paid but looked after us as best as they could."

But Professor Miller, who had just finished a nine-months stint working in Information Systems at Queensland Health, slammed Mr Joyce for his actions.

"To re-establish Qantas credibility, a new leadership and management team needs to be installed. This current chief executive will never be trusted by the travelling pubic as he may well repeat his behaviour.

"In a world economy, are we going to settle for the lowest common denominator or do we settle for the highest common factor?" he asked in reference to Qantas plans to move jobs offshore.

The Millers said they came to the airport at 8am hoping to get a flight. After two hours at the Qantas counter, they were booked on a 6.05pm flight to London today.

10.16am: Qantas shares are now clearly higher - up as much as 2.5 cents, or 1.6 per cent as investors embrace the indications of a more stable company in the near future. Virgin Australia, though, is soaring, up 3 cents, or 8.3 per cent, to 39 cents.

10.10am: There seems to be an upside to the Qantas dispute - some travellers are using it to get paid leave off work. Tim would not give his last name at Brisbane's Virgin terminal but he was on his way home to Melbourne where his boss thinks he is not getting in until Wednesday.

  • "My flight yesterday got cancelled and managed to get on a Virgin flight this morning but I told my boss the earliest flight I could get was Wednesday. My boss said he would still pay me out of sick leave. I was rostered on or work on Tuesday and now I'm going to be able to go to the [Melbourne] Cup. if I see Alan Joyce I will buy him a beer."

10.06am: Alan Joyce has begun his press conference. He has reiterated what he said earlier, that Qantas is waiting for approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority before getting planes back in the air, which they are hopeful will be achieved this afternoon. He earlier said they were aiming for 2pm.

Mr Joyce said extra staff would be on hand to cope with the expected influx in demand.

10.01am: Debbie Smedley arrived in Brisbane at 6am this morning with four 15-year-olds and her friend in tow and was supposed to fly home to Townsville at 8.55am. Instead they were left stranded in the Qantas terminal unable to book on to a different flight.

  • "We are pretty tired and pretty annoyed. There is six of us so it's not a simple matter of booking one seat on another flight. Hopefully we will get home today."

The group have spent 18 days travelling in Europe and flew back to Australia on an Emirates flight.

Ms Smedley said she did not think she would be booking with Qantas in the next year. "You just don't know if they are going to be reliable," she said.

9.56am: Fairfax Chief Political Correspondent Phillip Coorey says he has heard reports one person has died on board a Virgin flight from Perth to Sydney overnight. Five people, including a Gillard government staffer, fell ill on the flight, which was greeted on arrival in Sydney by two ambulance officers.

Julia Gillard yesterday kicked her staff off her official government flight from Perth to make way for her ministerial colleagues. The staff were then block booked on Virgin to get them back from the CHOGM summit.

9.55am: Deborah Gruenberg, who was in Sydney to visit friends and attend a school reunion, said it was a "miracle" and she felt "very lucky" about her 2pm flight to Los Angeles.

Deborah Gruenberg. Photo: Glenda Kwek

"I came at 8am because I could not get through to any phone numbers that Qantas provided," Ms Gruenberg, who is from Orange County, said.

"I had no internet where I was staying and I had my husband in the States checking through [co-share airline] American Airlines. The staff here are great but as far as communications, not so great. ... It will be a long day here but I'm just so happy I'm getting on."

9.52am: The real Alan Joyce is about to hold a press conference in Sydney to update on the bid to get Qantas planes back into the sky. A release posted to the ASX says the grounding has affected 68,000 passengers since 5pm yesterday, with 447 flights cancelled. They have also confirmed they plan to get aircraft flying again by mid afternoon.

9.45am: There are a few fake Twitter accounts adding a little humour to the chaos. A few goodies are @AlanJoyceCEO, @Qantas_VH_OQA and @Steve_ALAEA. Of course these are fake accounts and have nothing whatsoever to do with the real people or organisations.

One of the many fake Qantas accounts.

9.37am: How do you quantify the global impact of the Qantas grounding. This multimedia graphic will give you some idea of how the chaos has spread worldwide.

9.28am: Qantas shares are tipped to retreat today as investors join disgruntled customers and look to rival carriers in the wake of the weekend's travel turmoil following the company's decision to ground flights as its industrial dispute escalated. Read the latest report here.

9.23am: Fairfax political reporter and columnist Jacqueline Maley is our person on the ground in Canberra, where Qantas is likely to dominate events today.

And as the day dawns bright and sunny in Canberra, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been pounding the morning radio circuit. Of particular concern to her, it seems, are reports in the Daily Telegraph that she failed to return Alan Joyce's calls to her on Saturday afternoon, in the hours before Qantas instituted the grounding at 5pm. The implication being that Qantas would have called off the whole thing if the PM had only been bothered to pick up the phone.

Gillard has totally denied the reports and pointedly said that she believes Joyce will be denying their veracity as well. Joyce has said the same on ABC Radio national this morning. She said the Telegraph was flat out wrong.

It will be a fascinating day in Canberra with the government doing damage control and the Opposition seeking to make political capital out of the crisis. It is unclear how many MPs have been stranded by the crisis, one imagines that more than a few pairs will have to be granted in the House.

Greens leader Bob Brown has just given a doorstop condemning the "heartless CEO"  for his "heavy-handed" and "maverick use of tactics". Brown says the grounding will go down in the annals of Australian history, and that there are "few ethics showing up in the way this dispute has gone".

9.12am: So what has actually caused the chaos swirling around the Australian aviation industry? Here's a breakdown on what the various parties in the industrial stoush actually want:

Australian and International Pilots Association

  • No outsourcing of jobs
  • 2.5 per cent pay increase, each year, for three years
  • Industrial action so far limited to public relations, advertising and in-flight announcements

Transport Workers Union (representing ground staff, baggage handlers and catering staff)

  • same industrial agreement for all Qantas workers who are TWU members
  • access to independent umpire
  • No outsourcing of jobs
  • Job security
  • 5 per cent pay rise per year, with additional 1 per cent in superannuation protected against rise in CPI

Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association

  • Engineer jobs to stay in Australia – no offshoring
  • 5.33 per cent pay rise (wages plus allowances), every year, for three years
  • Tenure-based pay scale.
  • Mandatory consultation on new technology and a say on training

Qantas

  • Rejection of unions claim
  • TWU members paid 12 per cent higher than their equivalents at Virgin
  • Pilots earn 50 per cent more than peers at Virgin
  • Unions want to be paid to do work that no longer exists with advent of new aircraft
  • Not one job will go as a result of Qantas expanding to Asia
  • In modern world, no company can promise a job for life
  • Job security comes with running a strong business 

9.09am: If things couldn't get worse for airline passengers today, Fairfax reporter Tony Wright reports that Perth Airport's baggage scanning gear has broken down the day people are departing from CHOGM.

9.06am: Fantastic analysis piece from BusinessDay reporter Michael West this morning about the battle of the airline CEOs - how Qantas's Alan Joyce has been outmanoeuvred by Virgin's John Borghetti.

8.56am: At Sydney International Airport, information screens say Qantas flights remain cancelled this morning.

International flights remain cancelled. Photo: Glenda Kwek

8.52am: An anti-Qantas union rally planned in Sydney today has been cancelled in light of the events overnight. Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said in light of the FWA decision, union members would be working to get planes back in the air as soon as possible.

8.43am: Duayne Todd, who had travelled from Brisbane for a friend's wedding in Sydney at the weekend, was still not sure how he would return.

"I have a flight [from Brisbane] to Naarabri at 6am. I work at a coal mine."

Mr Todd said he was due to fly out of Sydney at 2pm on Qantas but wasn't sure if he would get on a flight, saying: "I'm still keeping my fingers crossed. I might have to go straight to work. There's a seven-hour train. I checked the times online last night."

His friend, Jared Scully, who was checking in at the Virgin counter, said he was "just lucky" he had chosen to fly Virgin instead of Sydney.

Duane Todd (right) with friend Jared Scully at Sydney Airport. Photo: Glenda Kwek

8.32am: The world's most famous diva - Joan Collins - has had a crack at Qantas on Twitter.

It's a safe bet a lot of Australians would love to see her give Qantas boss Alan Joyce a slap, Dynasty-style!

We've just heard Qantas is holding a press conference at 10am in Sydney, so we should get an update then on the security clearance, which is the final hurdle the airline needs to overcome before getting its planes back into the sky.

8.27am: Melbourne cabbie Faye Cheyne said the Tullamarine drop-off zone was definitely quieter than a normal weekday morning, but she thought this could also be due to the extra-long Melbourne Cup weekend. With just her and one other taxi at the departures area, she said: "Normally you would be having trouble getting up the ramp and this drop-off area would be chockers," she said.

Meanwhile Greer Maclachlan, a brand manager for a pharmaceutical company, came down from Sydney on a work trip on Thursday, stayed for the Derby Day races and was due to return on a Qantas flight yesterday. Stranded, she managed to book a seat on a Jetstar flight at 8.50 this morning.

  • "This was the only flight I could get on. I couldn't even get through to Qantas on their phone line. I was just lucky I had friends who were staying in Melbourne until today, so I stayed in their hotel room with them."

8.16am: Virgin Australia could well emerge as the big winner in all of this. Here is the scene at Sydney Airport this morning.

The Virgin Australia desk doing a roaring trade at Sydney Airport. Photo: Glenda Kwek

Qantas desks are very quiet at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne, although a few passengers are checking in for regional flights on Qantas Link. Jetstar desks are bustling, but with with less than 100 passengers, nowhere near the extent of the scene at the Virgin terminal in Sydney.

It's a very different story at the Qantas terminal.

A desolate scene at the Qantas Sydney terminal. Photo: Glenda Kwek

7.56am: Alan Joyce says the first Qantas planes should be back in the air by 2pm today. In an interview on ABC Radio National, he said pending a security clearance, the first aircraft should be taking off at 12.25pm, with the first passenger flight cleared by 2pm.

Mr Joyce also refuted media reports in News Ltd papers this morning that he tried to call Prime Minister Julia Gillard ahead of the grounding but his call was ignored.

  • "We had talked to three senior ministers. I had no expectation to talk to the PM I knew she was tied up at CHOGM. There are misreports on that completely. That is completely inaccurately reported."

He also denied claims that the grounding took the nation by surprise.

  • "This was not a surprise to anybody I would have thought. We've been talking about the pain this has been bringing to Qantas ... we had to bring this to a head. On multiple occasions I said that [grounding] was a possibility. I said on multiple occasions we could get to a stage where we would have to ground the airline - that was made very clear. Up to now all the pain was on the Q side and the unions had not taken any pain. They were talking about slow-baking Qantas for a year."

Mr Joyce said passengers could have faith that this morning's Fair Work Australia ruling would bring certainty to all about the reliability of Qantas.

  • "This ruling brings certainty to our passengers and certainty to our customers. At the end of the 21 days if we can't reach a deal it comes to binding arbitration. Now, from today, all industrial action is off. There's not going to be any disruption going forward and that's a big win for customers."
  • "I'm very hopeful it will be [a negotiated settlement] because we now have balance. Now we can have a sensible negotiation over the next 21 days. If we don't get there we go to binding arbitration and the umpire decides.

And there was room for one more apology to the passengers who have copped the brunt of the chaos.

  • "The pain that we've seen over the past months is all gone. That's a big win for our customers. I've apologised on multiple occasions to all our customers who have been disrupted. If we didn't do this it would have gone on into next year, because that's what the unions were telling us they would do."

7.32am Prime Minister Julia Gillard has criticised Qantas for taking "an extreme approach" by grounding its fleet when it could have taken "exactly the same" application the government took to Fair Work Australia to terminate industrial action. "I believe that Qantas took an extreme approach on Saturday," Ms Gillard told the Seven Network this morning. "It did that in circumstances where there were other options open to it."

She later told ABC Radio National the government had got "exactly the outcome that we wanted and we sought".

  • "They have 21 days to sort themselves out but as a result of the action we took in FWA industrial action has been terminated. If they don't then our industrial umpire will impose an outcome on them."
  • "As late as Friday Qantas was reassuring that they were in negotiations and they were negotiating their way through this dispute."
  • "I believe the action by Qantas was an extreme action to take. It has caused chaos for the travelling public and I believe they had other options to take."

7.30am: Channel Nine's Robert Penfold says it's unlikely about 5000 passengers stranded in the US will get Qantas flights until tomorrow. He said 2200 people stuck in LA, and others around the country, were being told of difficulties in organising flights today and were being told "go back to your hotels and we'll give you a call".

Stunning stats: from 5pm Saturday, to 5pm yesterday, 447 flights cancelled, 70,000 people stranded. This morning, another 70,000 passengers affected, for a total lof 140,000

Will the Qantas brand ever recover from Joyce's "kamikaze" decision, asks BusinessDay's Adele Ferguson. 

Jetstar check-in desks overwhelmed in Sydney, with queues stretching outside terminal doors.

6.55am A Melbourne taxi operator told theage.com.au this morning the weekend had been one of the quietest he could remember, with the Qantas grounding dramatically cutting trips to and from the airport - lifeblood for cabbies. At the Sydney airport rank this morning, a taxi attendant, who asked to remain anonymous, said he served only 10 customers yesterday, adding that car-hire agencies had been busy. Just an indication of the ripple effect of Joyce's decision.

6.37am Another Qantas passenger, Benny Martcio, said he was originally due to fly from Sydney to Perth at 6am. He too was placed on the 4.30pm flight.

  • "I found out this morning. I have to wait here to see if I have a chance of getting on an earlier flight. My next plan is to try Virgin."

6.35am ACTU boss Jeff Lawrence says unions will do "whatever it takes" to help get 108 planes back in the air today.

6.30am One of a handful of passengers at Sydney Qantas domestic departure terminal was Asa Amone. Mr Amone, who works in mining in Western Australia, said he had come to the airport at 5am to try and secure a new flight time.

Still waiting ... Asa Amone. Photo: Glenda Kwek

He had been due to fly out of Sydney back to Perth at 7.20pm yesterday and said he had not been able to speak to a Qantas staff member since then.

"I went up to the counter just then and I'm on a 4.30pm flight today. They said it's the first flight," Mr Amone said, adding that he would return to the airport later for the flight. Mr Amone said he flew Qantas regularly for work, but wasn't sure if he would again.

6.25am All quiet at the Qantas domestic terminal in Sydney except for a few passengers hoping to get new flight times.

The "real challenge" of the Transport Workers Union, which represents baggage handlers and ground crew. "We’ll negotiate ... but quite clearly the government has to stand up and defend Australian jobs.’’

In the latest news:

  • Qantas flights may resume by mid afternoon after Fair Work Australia ruled all industrial action stop and Qantas and three unions enter negotiations for at least 21 days. If those talks fail Fair Work Australia can then settle the dispute. That ruling came just after 2am today after a 12-hour hearing.
  • "This decision provides certainty for passengers," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in statement released early this morning. "We will be getting our aircraft back up in the air as soon as we possibly can."
  • Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten welcomed a return to common sense. "We are very conscious that there are tens of thousands of travellers stranded throughout Australia and the rest of the world.
    "The Australian economy has been put at risk of great damage, [notably] the mining and tourism sectors
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/qantas-ceo-alan-joyce-made-phone-call-to-pm-julia-gillard-but-was-ignored/story-e6freuy9-1226180960683

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