Qantas Grounds All Flights World-Wide

Qantas Airways Ltd’s fleet of aircraft remained grounded in airports across the world leaving 70,000 passengers stranded ahead of talks due to resume later Sunday that could get the planes back in the air.

The flagship Australian airline–the worlds 10th-largest by traffic– grounded all its domestic and international flights Saturday in response to a worsening labor strike over pay and conditions, dramatically escalating the dispute.

The surprise move caught the government off guard and forced it to seek a rare order from the industrial-relations watchdog — Fair Work Australia—to end the strike. The body held an emergency meeting late Saturday and after hearing evidence from Qantas proceedings were adjourned until 0300 GMT Sunday. If the government’s bid is successful, both sides would be forced into talks during a 21-day period that neither side can take industrial action.

Qantas group Chief Executive Alan Joyce said he is hoping for a decision from the industrial relations watchdog on Sunday. If that body decides to terminate the strike action, Joyce said flights could resume within six hours subject to clearance from safety regulators.

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