Qantas Airways offers free flights to passengers who were left stranded by the fleet grounding in a desperate bid to win them back. The Australian carrier and union workers meet today for talks.

Qantas Airways, one of the world’s biggest carriers, is giving away free air tickets to apologize to travellers who were left high and dry when airline’s entire fleet was grounded for two days in October.

Australia-based airline says that passengers whose travels were disrupted by the grounding are entitled to a free return economy flight within Australia or to New Zealand over a two-year period from Dec. 14.

The offer of free flights will reportedly cost the carrier which is not exactly known for its cheap flights somewhere around A $20 million.

“This ticket offer is one of a range of initiatives we will be launching as a way of saying sorry as we move forward into this period of stability,” said Alan Joyce, Qantas Chief Executive Officer in a statement.

“Throughout the long period of industrial activity we have been acutely aware of the impact on our customers,” Alan Joyce added. He also said that this was the airline’s way of winning back customer loyalty.

It has been reported that approximately 80,000 passengers were impacted when Australia’s flag carrier grounded all of its aircraft all over the world on Oct. 29 for about 48 hours. The move was made by the airline to counter long continuing industrial action.

Fair Work Australia intervened and ordered an end to the halt. The airline and the unions, representing engineers, long-haul pilots and baggage handlers, were given 21 days to reach a new contract or face obligatory arbitration.

As per the airline, the disruption cost Qantas A$68 million ($71 million).

Customers to be Compensated

Qantas says that passengers will be compensated for all reasonable losses ensuing from the fleet grounding. Alan Joyce said that the airline regrets the inconvenience caused by the long-standing dispute and by the grounding specifically.

“Now that no more industrial action can take place and the cloud of further strike action has lifted, we are 100 percent focused on what matters to customers, getting them to their destinations, safely, on time and in comfort, and in rewarding their loyalty to Qantas,” Alan Joyce was quoted in several news sources.

The airline also said that announcements in regards to overseas customers and frequent fliers will be made soon. Cheap flights tickets and other incentives can be expected.

Qantas Resumes Talks With Union

On Monday, Qantas Airways and union members met for negotiations. This was the first meeting of the parties after the Australian airline halted its entire operations late last month over the labour dispute.

Secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, Steve Purvinas said another negotiating session was scheduled for Thursday.

“By today (Monday), we’ll know whether Qantas are interested in negotiating an outcome or whether they’ll continue to stonewall – which has been the case up until now,” Purvinas was quoted as saying in news reports.

On condition of anonymity, a Qantas spokesman said, “We are committed to the negotiations … and believe that we should be able to reach an agreement within the 21-day period.”

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