Oct.29 - Australian airline Qantas says it is grounding its entire fleet around the world in a protracted labour dispute. Paul Chapman reports.
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Australian airline Qantas announced on Saturday it was grounding its entire fleet over a long-running labour dispute.
The move, at a cost of more than 21 million U.S. dollars a day, was revealed by Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce.
SOUNDBITE: Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce saying (English):
"We have decided to ground the Qantas international and domestic fleets immediately. I repeat, we are grounding the Qantas fleet now. Obviously those flights that are currently in the air will complete their scheduled sectors. However, as from now, there will be no further Qantas domestic or international departures anywhere in the world. Jetstar and QantasLink will continue to operate."
More than 600 flights have been cancelled.
That's affecting an estimated 70, 000 passengers.
The airline also says it will lock out all employees from Monday evening in a further twist to the dispute over pay and cost-cutting plans.
The row with the engineers, pilots, catering and ground handling associations has seen strike action since September.
Qantas is looking to set up two new airlines in Asia.
It plans to cut 1, 000 jobs and order nine billion dollars worth of new Airbus aircraft as part of a make-over to salvage the loss-making business.
The Australian Pilots' Association said the move to ground the fleet was unprecedented.
Australia's government said it would intervene.
Paul Chapman, Reuters
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