Nothing says "sorry" like a free return air fare. Or so Qantas is hoping.
The carrier, which brought the nation to a virtual aerial standstill last weekend by grounding all of its aircraft because of an industrial dispute, is offering free flights to passengers left stranded by its action.
Given there were an estimated 80,000 of them, stranded in 22 cities across the world, the apology may cost Qantas as much as $20 million, Bloomberg reported.
"Throughout the long period of industrial activity we have been acutely aware of the impact on our customers,” Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said in the statement.
"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 rewarding their loyalty to Qantas...
“This ticket offer is one of a range of initiatives we will be launching as a way of saying sorry.”
Qantas accompanied the offer — return economy flights within Australia or to New Zealand over a two-year period from Dec. 14. — with full-page newspaper advertisements urging passengers to "fly with us, on us."
Joyce said further announcements would soon be made about compensating frequent flyers and overseas-based customers, News24 reported.
Unions, meanwhile, criticized the Qantas offer as not going far enough in compensating passengers whose travel plans were thrown into disarray by the grounding of its entire fleet.
"Qantas has a 46 percent increase in underlying profits this year," Tony Sheldon from the Transport Workers Union is quoted by Radio New Zealand as saying. "They have the capacity to compensate international passengers. They have the capacity to turn around and reach decent Australian job arrangements instead of outsourcing jobs overseas."