Court hearings continue as Qantas fleet remains grounded

Singapore
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Australia's industrial court has begun a hearing into the dispute between Qantas Airways and its unions, with the government hoping for a quick resolution to the impasse that led to the airline grounding its aircraft and suspending all operations indefinitely on Saturday.

On Saturday, Canberra asked Fair Work Australia to look into the dispute between Qantas and the Australian Licenced Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA).

The hearings began that night and ended without resolution, and resumed on Sunday. Fair Work Australia has the legal mandate to end an industrial dispute if that causes "significant damage to the economy", according to its website.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, however, told Australian media on Sunday that only an order terminating the strikes will guarantee the resumption of services. A suspension, he added, did not give the airline "certainty".

Flights could resume six hours after it gets approval from the Australian regulators, he said.

The airline said that since the grounding at 17:00h Sydney time on Saturday, over 68,000 passengers have been affected and 447 flights were cancelled.

Operations by Qantas' low-cost subsidiary Jetstar have not been affected, and the other members of the Group like QantasLink, JetConnect, Express Freighters Australia and Atlas Freighters have continued services.

Jetstar, along with other Australian carriers such as Virgin Australia and its partner Skywest, have announced plans to increase services on certain routes to help stranded Qantas passengers.