Qantas resumes flights after thousands stranded

Passengers wait inside the terminal to board their Qantas flights at Melbourne Airport on Oct. 31, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.

Jeremy Hobson: Well there are still millions without power in the Northeast this morning, after that Oct-snow-ber storm that hit over the weekend. Passengers on a Jetblue plane were stranded on a tarmac in Hartford, Conn. for 7 hours. Many flights to New York's airports were diverted to Hartford, overwhelming the airport's infrastructure.

If you think that's bad, consider the plight of Qantas passengers this morning. The Australian airline just ended a strike that grounded all planes, stranding a 100,000 passengers around the world.

Reporter Stuart Cohen joins us now from Sydney, Australia with the details. Good morning, Stuart.

Stuart Cohen: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: What's it like now? Has the problem been solved, or is it still pretty bad?

Cohen: Well, it's still going to be a lot of waiting around. Internationally, around 22,000 passengers were stranded. Many are stuck in LA and still face delays in getting overseas, and Americans in Australia are facing delays getting home. But there are also other airlines that fly the same route, so at least American travelers have other options.

Hobson: How did this shutdown come about, Stuart? It seems pretty dramatic to shutdown the entire Quantas system.

Cohen: Qantas has been locked in months long contract negotiations with three of its biggest unions. They've been staging a series of work stoppages over the past few months.

Qantas' CEO, Alan Joyce, said that was costing the airline about $2 million a day. So instead of letting Qantas -- as he put it -- "die the death of a thousand cuts," he took the rather bold step of grounding the airline to force the issue to a head -- and it worked.

It took just a few hours before the Prime Minister stepped in and referred the dispute to the country's labor arbitration board. They fast-tracked it and by late, late Sunday night, not much more than 24 hours after it all began, they issued an order putting an end to the whole dispute.

Hobson: Reporter Stuart Cohen joining us from Sydney, Australia. Thanks Stuart.

Cohen: You're welcome, Jeremy.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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