By the time the labor relations court acted, several hundred flights had been canceled and tens of thousands of passengers had been
stranded around the world.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said he had no choice but to order the lockout of union workers Saturday and end months of rolling strikes that led to canceled flights, $70 million in losses and a collapse in future bookings.
The president of the labor arbitration panel, Geoffrey Giudice, said the group acted to protect Australia’s tourism and aviation industry.
Qantas said 447 flights had been canceled in the first 24 hours of the lockout.
Qantas is the largest of Australia’s four national domestic airlines, carrying about 70,000 passengers a day on a fleet of 108 planes that operate in 22 countries. In 2010, it was the 16th largest airline in the world by passenger miles flown, according to the trade publication Air Transport World.
Its major international destinations include Singapore, Hong Kong and London. In the U.S. , Qantas flies to Los Angeles, Dallas, New York and Honolulu.
Travelers reported being ordered to leave planes that were already on the tarmac when the lockout began. Qantas said it paid to rebook passengers on other airlines.
For weeks, workers have carried out rolling strikes and refused to work overtime to demand higher pay and protested the airline’s plans to cut about 1,000 jobs. Qantas wants to reduce costs by creating new Asia-based airlines for international flying. International flights were a roughly $200 million drain on the company last year. The company reported in August that annual profit had doubled.
If Qantas loses customers, that could also hurt partners in its alliance of global airlines, including American Airlines.