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Australia’s skies were plunged into chaos over the weekend when Qantas CEO Alan Joyce released an edict to ground all domestic and international flights in response to a protracted battle with the unions representing his staff.

The unprecedented move crippled the Australian aviation and travel industry and caused widespread discontent for stranded travellers globally. Over 70,000 Qantas passengers have been stranded around the world. Joyce claimed the self-sabotaging move was a bid to enact “equal pain” on the workers who had been striking over the last few weeks in response to widespread pay and job cuts and claims of a deterioration in working conditions, aviation quality and safety.

During the early hours of Monday morning marathon talks between Qantas management and the employment tribunal - Fair Work Australia - ended with a ceasefire ordered between Qantas and the unions. Flights are expected to resume locally and internationally from midday today.

It is unclear at this stage whether Joyce will re-evaluate his restructuring plans for the carrier which include the axing of 1,000 jobs. What can be assured is that he will retain his 71 per cent pay rise, which was approved by shareholders last week.

The estimated financial impact of the grounding decision has been placed at $AU256 million per day in losses to the tourism industry and $AU93 million a day in gross domestic product. ®

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