Rules squad grounded by Qantas industrial action

Qantas Airways has grounded all aircraft over an industrial dispute which has disrupted the travel plans of the Ireland International Rules squad.

Qantas Airways has grounded all aircraft over an industrial dispute which has disrupted the travel plans of the Ireland International Rules squad.

Anthony Tohill's men were due to fly from Melbourne to Sydney where a three-day training camp had been scheduled.

However, their flight was one of the 108 internal and international Qantas flights cancelled at 22 airports today.

It is understood that the Irish management, players and travelling officials and members of the media were at gate 23 about to board the plane when Qantas cancelled all flights without notice.

In a statement, the Australian airline said that it will 'lock out all employees who will be covered by the industrial agreements currently being negotiated with the Australian Licenced Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA)'.

"This step is being taken under the provisions of the Fair Work Act in response to industrial action taken by these unions. The financial impact of action taken to date has reached $68 million and the action is costing Qantas approximately $15 million per week in lost revenue. Approximately 70,000 passengers have been affected and more than 600 flights cancelled," the statement continued.

"Pilots, licenced engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff are essential to Qantas operations and the lock-out will therefore make it necessary for all Qantas aircraft to be grounded. For precautionary reasons, this will take place immediately."

After winning yesterday's first Test by a record 44-point margin, Ireland are huge favourites to lift the Cormac McAnallen Cup after the second Test at Gold Coast's Metricon Stadium next Friday.

The Irish touring party have made their way to a nearby hotel where they will stay overnight. They are hoping to travel directly to the Gold Coast tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Emmet Bolton has rejoined his team-mates after being discharged from hospital. The Kildare defender was treated for concussion following a collision with Australia's Mitch Robinson in the third quarter of yesterday's Test.

It remains to be seen if Bolton will be cleared to play in the Series' concluding game however, with Donegal All-Star Karl Lacey standing by to take his place.

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