Qantas strands passengers, leaders

October 29, 2011 14:37

PERTH, Australia - Australian airline Qantas left tens of thousands of passengers and nearly 20 world leaders in a lurch on Saturday after it grounded its entire fleet due to an bitter dispute with airline unions.

Travelers in Australia and at regional hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong were fuming as their travel plans were derailed and they were left without luggage and scrambling to book other flights.

"It just comes across really badly, I'm proudly Australian but it just leaves a really bad taste in your mouth," Zoe Johnson, an Australian living in Switzerland said at Perth airport. "So many so people say, 'I'm never going to fly Qantas again,' and from my point of view its just feels like a kind of bullying tactic really."

Qantas' decision comes at an inopportune time-- the west Australian city of Perth is hosting the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Perth and 17 heads of government could be marooned in the remote city.

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