Qantas’ grounding of all its flights is set to have a “potentially catastrophic” impact on Australia’s tourism sector, industry bosses have warned, amid renewed calls for the federal government to intervene.
Tens of thousands of passengers have been left stranded worldwide due to Qantas’ decision to ground all of its domestic and international flights and lock out workers from 8pm on Monday.
Alan Joyce, the airline’s chief executive, said that he had to take the “unbelievable decision” due to a breakdown in negotiations between management and unions of staff pay and job security.
Small businesses in the tourism and retail sectors look set to be damaged by the dramatic scrapping of all Qantas flights, with industry leaders calling on prime minister Julia Gillard to step in.
John Lee, chief executive of The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), said in a statement: “Enough is enough.”
“This will have an immediate and potentially catastrophic impact on tourism operators and will threaten the viability of tourism businesses across the country.”
“This issue must be resolved urgently and that will need leadership from the highest levels.”
“We believe it is now time for the prime minister to use the national interest provision under the Fair Work Act and ensure arbitration begins as soon as possible.”
Lee added that Australia’s $94 billion tourism industry, already under pressure due to the strong dollar, has already been impacted by the impasse.
Other tourism leaders have joined calls for action to resolve the dispute, with Andrew Jeffries, CEO of Tourism Industry Council NSW, saying: “Tourism will be massively affected by the grounding as around half of the domestic air fleet has been cancelled immediately.”
“Our industry will be massively impacted with by this decision.”
“The council calls for an urgent resolution and a reasonable compromise from the three unions involved.”
An emergency Fair Work Australia hearing will be held today at 2pm in an attempt to remedy the industrial action.