Qantas Domestic and International chief executive Andrew David has attempted to address the heavy criticism the airline has been facing. Last weekend, Mr David published an open letter explaining why the airline was “not delivering the service that our customers expect”.
Qantas is under intense scrutiny for its abnormally high levels of cancellations, delays, lost luggage, stranded passengers, and generally very average customer service. Mr David says the airline is working hard to overcome these recurring problems but also warns they aren’t over yet and told passengers to expect “more bumps along the way.
“Much has been said about Qantas in the last few months. Some of it’s fair, as we’re absolutely not delivering the service that our customers expect, but some of it fails to take into consideration what’s happening across the industry here and around the world.
“So, I want to explain how we got here and what we’re doing to fix it,” read the statement.
Mr David admitted that COVID-19 and flu-related sickness combined with labour shortages had significantly impacted the airline.
The letter came after Sydney airport struggled through the final few days of the school holidays when many families were heading home.
Qantas and Jetstar anticipated flying 350,000 passengers domestically as the holidays ended but reports from the airport suggested that cancellations were spiking and arriving passengers had to wait hours to receive their luggage before they could finally head home.
“Restarting an airline after a two-year grounding is complex, and aviation labour markets, as with many others, are extremely tight. Compounding that is the fact that COVID cases are steeply on the rise again at the same time as the winter flu season,” Mr David said.
“Others are using scaremongering tactics by making safety claims that are baseless and simply false. Every supplier we work with must adhere to our strict safety management system – a system that sees us consistently rated with the safest airlines in the world.
“Sadly, this is not the first time false claims have been made by a union to further an industrial agenda.
The truth is that the difficulties we are facing now are because of COVID and flu-related sickness, as well as an extremely tight labour market.”
Recently released airline data revealed Qantas had Australia’s worst domestic cancellation rate in May 2022 – one in 13 flights.
So, what’s Qantas doing to turn it around?
It has recruited more than 1000 people, is rostering more people on stand-by, consolidating flights on to bigger aircraft, basing more customer support team members at airports and have doubled the number of people working in the call centres, with average wait times now better than they were pre-COVID.
“Given COVID and flu will be ongoing, there will be a few more bumps along the way, but over the weeks and months ahead, flying will get back to being as smooth as it used to be,” Mr David said.
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