By Shane McGinley
Australian carrier left thousands stranded after grounding fleet during strike dispute
Australia's Qantas Airways is to slash its fares in a bid to
win back passenger confidence after grounding its entire fleet for 48 hours
during an industrial dispute, it was reported.
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.
But the tactic hurt the Qantas brand, with many disrupted
passengers vowing never to travel again with the airline and leaving it with a
huge job to restore confidence as it prepares for the busy Christmas-New Year
"Qantas will cut prices across its international and
domestic network, offer grounded passengers special promotional deals, and take
out one of the biggest national advertising campaigns in its 90-year history in
a bid to win back disenchanted travellers in the lead-up to the peak Christmas
period," the Australian Financial Review reported.
Australia’s largest airline, which claims to have lost A$68m
($72m) this year to industrial action, also plans to offer customers double the
normal rate of frequent flyer points, the paper said.
The carrier’s aircraft returned to the skies on Monday as a
result of a tribunal order to end the industrial action that gave both sides 21
days to reach a settlement.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, dubbed a "kamikaze" by a
newspaper for effectively staging his own strike against the unions, had compared
the ongoing labour disputes as "death by a thousand cuts" and warned
the future of the 90 -year-old airline was at stake.
Gulf carriers said Sunday they had seen a rise in traffic on
their Australia routes as passengers scrambled to find alternative seats.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it would be working closely
with its partner carrier Virgin Australia to aid Qantas passengers stranded as
a result of the strike action
"We are already looking at a range of options to
support Virgin Australia in its home market by freeing up additional capacity
if required,” said CEO James Hogan. “We also stand ready to assist Qantas
passengers who are stranded overseas and need to travel home.”
Contingency plans included operating a shuttle service
between Sydney and Melbourne on certain days of the week using Etihad aircraft,
and operating a daily flight between Sydney and Bangkok.
Emirates, the largest international airline said Sunday it
had not amended its flight schedule to Australia, but travel agents reported a
jump in bookings on the carrier’s routes.
Basel Abu Alrub, managing partner of Dubai’s U-travel, said
the agency had seen a rise in bookings on Emirates flights to Singapore, as
travellers looked for alternative routes in and out of Australia, and on Cathay
Pacific flights between the Gulf and Singapore.
Prices had remained stable as other carriers moved in to
fill the gap left by Qantas, he said.
Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said in August that the
state-backed carrier hoped to capitalise on the void left by Qantas slashing
routes on its international operations.
''They [Qantas] don't have the network they had of 15 years
ago,'' Hogan said. “If they [Qantas] do dilute or marginalise their
international flying that's a great opportunity for us … and we're happy to
fill the gap.''
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More CVs on the way to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, from Qantas and its subsidiaries.
Both EK/EY and their subsidiaries are forever ready to fill the void in the lives of those laid off or left useless in Ozland.
Qantas is a mess, like Humpty Dumpty who shall put the pieces together again? May be let Emirates take the whole thing over and start fresh.