Qantas Resumes Flights After Weekend Grounding

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

This time, they couldn’t blame a Chilean volcano.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made the executive decision on Saturday afternoon to ground the airline’s entire fleet after a court ruling that affected its battle with three labor unions. The three unions, the Australian and International Pilots Association, the Transport Workers Union and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, have been worried about the airline moving jobs overseas in a new restructuring plan. On Monday, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority ordered Qantas, the world’s 10th largest airline, to resume its operations.

(MORE: Qantas: Airline Safety’s Golden Child No More?)

The “Flying Kangaroo” expects to process all 70,000 affected passengers within the next 48 hours. But things still may not be so hunky-dory for Australia’s largest airline: the grounding of Qantas’ fleet is estimated to have cost the company $20 million a day.

(MORE: Another Qantas Flight Makes Emergency Landing)

Qantas also owns Jetstar, a low-cost subsidiary airline, which serves Southeast Asia and the South Pacific region. Fears concerning Jetstar’s possible expansion have fueled trade and union conflicts.In recent months, problems with workers have cost the Australian airline approximately $74 million.

Henry Harteveldt, an airline industry analyst, told the Associated Press that Joyce’s decison could hurt Qantas’ reputation, saying “A lot of travelers won’t take a chance and will book away to Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and other airlines.” Virgin Australia was adding extra flights and offering discounts to stranded Qantas passengers before Monday’s decision.

“Brand loyalty in the airline business is very low,” he added.

Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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