PERTH, Australia - Australian airlineQantas left tens of thousands of passengers and nearly20 world leaders in a lurch on Saturday after it grounded itsentire fleet due to an bitter dispute with airline unions.
Travelers in Australia and at regional hubs such asSingapore and Hong Kong were fuming as their travel plans werederailed and they were left without luggage and scrambling tobook other flights.
"It just comes across really badly, I'm proudly Australianbut it just leaves a really bad taste in your mouth," ZoeJohnson, an Australian living in Switzerland said at Perthairport. "So many so people say, 'I'm never going to fly Qantasagain,' and from my point of view its just feels like a kind ofbullying tactic really."
Qantas' decision comes at an inopportune time-- the westAustralian city of Perth is hosting the Commonwealth heads ofgovernment meeting in Perth and 17 heads of government could bemarooned in the remote city.