Australian tribunal orders Qantas to end lockout

The bitter dispute between Qantas Airways and its unions ended yesterday after an Australian labour tribunal ordered the airline to end the lockout and directed the unions to terminate all industrial action.

The grounding of its entire fleet on Saturday had stranded more than 68,000 passengers in Australia and around the world, which cost the national economy $250 million a day.

Qantas's chief executive Alan Joyce had ordered a lockout and grounded all 108 aircraft in as many as 22 countries until unions representing pilots, mechanics, baggage handlers and caterers reach agreements with Qantas over pay and work conditions. (See: Strike-hit Qantas grounds its entire fleet, declares lock-out

"We will be getting our aircraft back up in the air as soon as we possibly can," Joyce said in a statement moments after the court passed the order at 2 am on Monday, Sydney time.

Sydney-based Qantas will begin operating limited flights from today after obtaining approval from the aviation regulator.

Angered by the grounding, the Australian government called for an emergency court hearing on Saturday night to end the dispute for the sake of national prestige and loss to the economy.