Australian PM blasts 'irresponsible' Qantas over lockout

The carrier's decision to ground its fleet amid a trade union dispute left thousands stranded
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has condemned the action taken by the country's national airline Qantas in response to industrial action by workers. (Getty Images)
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Ms Gillard said the airline's top executives had been "extreme and irresponsible" by grounding planes for 46 hours, which caused Australian aviation’s biggest disruption in two decades, and stranded thousands of passengers around the world. (AFP/Getty Images)
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She added that she supported the right of workers to take industrial action, and conveyed her anger towards the company. "Qantas on Friday was talking about continuing to negotiate this dispute," the BBC reported her as saying. "On Saturday it made the decision to strand tens of thousands of passengers around Australia and around the world. "It needs to take some responsibility publicly for that decision." (AFP/Getty Images)
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Around 70,000 passengers were left stranded when the carrier grounded 108 planes to 22 destinations on Saturday, in a bid to squeeze trade unions threatening rolling strikes. (Getty Images)
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Qantas bosses said the lock-out was needed to end the dispute. The firm has since been ordered to resume flights after a decision by Fair Work Australia to terminate the industrial action. (Getty Images)
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Passengers queue up at Qantas check-in counters at Singapore's Changi International Airport on October 31, 2011. Qantas is slowly getting back in the air but analysts say its brand has suffered serious long-term damage, with rival carriers in Asia and the Middle East set to benefit from its disarray. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Australia’s largest airline, which claims to have lost A$68m ($72m) this year to industrial action, has said it is to slash its fares in a bid to win back passenger confidence. It also plans to offer customers double the normal rate of frequent flyer points. (AFP/Getty Images)
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But the carrier faces a huge challenge to restore confidence as it prepares for the busy Christmas-New Year holiday season. It already claims to have lost A$68m ($72m) this year to industrial action. (Getty Images)