The Australian carrier has grounded its entire worldwide fleet because of industrial action by its employees, stranding an estimated 70,000 people
Hundreds of passengers were left stranded in Britain after airline Qantas grounded its flights across the globe because of a bitter industrial dispute.
The Australian national carrier decided to halt its fleet of 108 aircraft indefinitely until unions representing pilots and ground staff reach an agreement with the airline over pay and conditions.
Grounded to a halt: Passengers queuing at Qantas check-in counters at Changi International Airport in Singapore as the airline cancelled its flights
Among the 70,000 passengers affected by the 600 cancelled flights are 17 Commonwealth leaders stranded in Perth following the summit there.
Australia's PM Julia Gillard, who hosted the summit issued a dire warning over the strike's impact saying it could hurt the country's economy.
She said, "The Qantas dispute escalated today and I am concerned about that for the national economy ... it could have implications for our national economy."
A passenger reads a book at Melbourne Airport as over 600 flights were cancelled. pics/afp, getty images
A Qantas spokesman said 600 flights have been cancelled because of the industrial action -- affecting 70,000 passengers. British tourist Chris Crulley, said the pilot on his Qantas flight informed passengers while taxiing down a Sydney runway that he had to return to the terminal 'to take an important phone call'. The flight was then grounded. "We're all set for the flight and settled in and the next thing I'm stunned. We're getting back off the plane," said the firefighter. The strikes have cost the airline 15 million Australian dollars (Rs 780 crore) a week.
A spokesman said, "Qantas regrets that this action has become necessary and apologises sincerely to all affected passengers." Bookings had already collapsed after unions warned travellers to travel with other airlines and Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said that the unions' actions have caused a crisis for Qantas. "They are trashing our strategy and our brand," he said. "They are deliberately destabilising the company and there is no end in sight."
Missing out on her best friend's wedding Rebecca Morrison and her daughter Nevaeh Fetoai, were left stranded at Sydney Airport. Morrison received a message from Qantas to say her flight home was cancelled, meaning she was forced to miss her best friend's wedding.