November 6, 2011 / 3:48 AM / 6 years ago

Qantas offers free flights to woo back customers

<p>An Indonesian baggage handler pushes a trolley full of surf boards to be loaded onto an Australia-bound Quantas flight at Denpasar airport on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, October 14, 2002. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside</p>

SYDNEY, NOV 6 - Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) is offering free flights to passengers who were affected by the airline’s decision to ground its entire fleet over a labor dispute, in the first of a number of measures to regain customer loyalty.

Passengers who were unable to fly last weekend are eligible for a free return economy flight within Australia or to New Zealand, the company said in a statement Sunday.

The initiative will cost the airline about A$20 million, ($20.73 million), a spokeswoman confirmed.

Qantas grounded its fleet in order to force a resolution to an ongoing dispute with trade unions over pay, conditions and job security.

The shutdown stranded tens of thousands of passengers and angered the federal government, which intervened and sent the dispute to the workplace umpire, FairWork Australia, which then ordered an end to the industrial action.

“Throughout the long period of industrial activity we have been acutely aware of the impact on our customers,” chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“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.”

The airline said it will make further announcements shortly in relation to customers based outside Australia and for members of its frequent flyer program.

Reporting by Morag MacKinnon; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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