Qantas Airways resumed revenue flights today after abruptly shutting down operations on Saturday in an effort to squelch labor unrest among its various work groups. The first flight took off from Sydney to Jakarta at around 3:40 p.m. Sydney time, shortly after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia issued its authorization on Monday afternoon. The flight stoppage disrupted the travel plans of close to 80,000 Qantas customers. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the company would likely resume full operations within 24 hours of the first flight, but in a statement, Qantas said its international passengers can expect delays until Tuesday evening. Domestic services would likely return to normal by Tuesday morning, it added.
A break in the crisis finally came about when Fair Work Australia—the country’s workplace relations tribunal—this morning granted the Australian Government’s application to end all industrial action by the Australian Licenced Engineers Union, the Transport Workers Union, the Australian and International Pilots Union and Qantas.
Fair Work Australia’s orders call for 21 days of negotiations between the parties, during which no further industrial action can take place. If they do not reach an agreement during the three-week period, binding arbitration will take place under the control of Fair Work Australia.
“The industrial process has now passed into the hands of the independent umpire. All parties will be treated equally and we will respect the decisions that are made,” said Joyce. “We have new and existing agreements with 12 unions. We now anticipate the conclusion of agreements with the remaining three.”
Qantas has suffered through a series of so-called rolling strikes and other work actions, such as coordinated refusals to work overtime, over the past weeks, forcing the company to significantly curtail operations. Employee groups have cited concerns about “outsourcing” overseas as it expands the operating scope of its low-fare subsidiary, Jetstar.