Sunday, 30 October 2011

What is Qantas's game in suspending all flights?

Qantas appears to be playing a very dangerous game. It looks like it is prepared to sacrifice passenger loyalty, for a termination of the dispute, and forced conciliation.

Up until recently, we all bagged Qantas - a bit of a national past-time, but we flew on it anyway.  We criticised the falling standards of food, on the fights and in the Club, but disparaged the happy camper approach of Virgin even more.

A friend of mine used to refer to Virgin as the 'broken homes' airline, with the number of screaming unaccompanied minors returning to one or other of their estranged parents.

Over recent weeks, views on Qantas have changed.  Even though it has been privatised, no longer has any government ownership and but for some ownership provisions, really doesn't call Australia home. Australian's still see it as their airline. They still feel proud when they hear its advertising jingle.

Even during the dispute, Australian's were largely loyal. We tend to have a bit of a soft spot for union claims, especially when they can be seen as the underdog. Alan Joyce's raised paypacket certainly makes him look like a toff, despite that Irish lilt to his voice. But his 'If you are going to continue to throw your weight around, then have a look at ours.' attitude in shutting down the airline is going to lose him any residual sympathy.

On a quick consultation of my friends comments on my facebook page - I get one who will be stranded in Byron Bay (my heart bleeds) and another who shouts: " STEP DOWN ALAN JOYCE. FUCK OFF BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM. STOP RUINING OUR AIRLINE. YOU HAVE FAILED AUSTRALIA." I should add, that the grounding has cost him a significant family event.


The unions are claiming that this action by Qantas has been premeditated - and well it may have been, but Qantas's lack of preparedness to communicate with passengers overseas as demonstrated by this story in the fairfax media, shows they were either unprepared, or just incompetent in their preparations.

So what happens next?

Probably, Fair Work Australia will terminate the dispute, giving the parties 21 days to resolve it before the FWA starts making decisions for them.

If FWA only grants a suspension, then Alan Joyce says, the grounding of aircraft will continue.

Either way, it will end up as a cost to Qantas and its staff.

In the meantime Virgin will continue to make hay while the sun shines. John Borghetti might rightly gloat on Qantas's foolish decision to overlook him when appointing Alan Joyce as their CEO. I have to book a flight to Melbourne in 3 weeks time - guess which airline I will be booking on?

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