Qantas to continue to cut flights amid ongoing airport chaos

Qantas said it will continue to cut back on flights as lost baggage, delays and cancellations infuriate customers.

The national carrier has been plagued with numerous issues in a post-Covid world, including industrial disputes and understaffing leading to significant travel disruptions for customers.

Now, Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David has apologized to everyone who has been affected and promised the company would do better.

Speaking to2GB’s Ben Fordham on Wednesday morning, Mr David said Qantas understands that actions speak louder than words.

“Let me start by saying an apology to all your listeners. We are the national carrier, people have high expectations of us, we have high expectations of ourselves and clearly over the last few months we have not been delivering what we did pre-Covid,” he said.

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When questioned by Fordham on how Qantas was going to fix this mess, Mr David revealed that reducing flights and hiring more staff were at the center of the airline’s plan.

“We are doing two things Ben. One we have reduced some of our flying this month and we are planning to do the same next month, recognizing the operational pressures we have,” he said.

“Two, we are hiring more people. Since Easter we have hired 1000 people into the organization and our ground handlers have increased our resources by on average by 15 per cent.”

He said once the new hires are fully trained, Qantas will then be able to increase flight capacity to normal levels.

Mr David also said the company had been focusing on its call center response times, which were at one point averaging in the hours.

Those times are now significantly reduced, he claimed.

Fordham pointed out there were other pressing matters impacting customers, such as the high volume of canceled flights, with 13 in Sydney alone yesterday, and cases of mishandled baggage.

Mr David said part of yesterday’s cancellations were due to airport issues with the baggage belt and the system used to guide planes into Sydney.

“I can tell you our cancellation rate is now back close to where it was pre-Covid, its not quite there yet,” he said.

“I can tell you our mishandled bags is actually almost where it was pre-Covid as well. On average pre-Covid we had about five mishandled bags in 3000. When I checked this morning, yesterday it was about seven.”

However, Fordham wasn’t letting up, pointing out that the airline’s quality of service has “fallen off a cliff” since firing 1,600 baggage handlers in 2020 and outsourcing the jobs.

“Those who lost their jobs, the Federal Court ruled the decision made by Qantas to sack these workers was unlawful. Do you acknowledge it was unlawful to sack those people?” Fordham asks.

“No, we are appealing that decision and we are waiting for that hearing,” Mr. David responded.

Qantas is now being threatened with even more problems, after ground crew from the Emirates-owned group Dnata moved to apply to the Fair Work Commission to hold a vote on strike action due to issues with their pay and working conditions.

The move means staff would be protected under the Fair Work Act if they vote to hold a strike, while the dispute with Dnata continues over a new enterprise agreement.

The airport services provider supplies baggage handling for up to 20 airlines, including Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Air Canada.

Dnata catering workers, who serve now Australian and international airlines, are also considering taking action over pay and working conditions.

Mr David slammed the move on Tuesday, claiming thousands of international travelers would be affected if the action went ahead.

“It’s awful that the union is taking whatever action they are proposing, it could have a further impact on the traveling public,” he told the Today show.

“Everybody in this country has been locked up for two years or more. They all want to get home. They want to go and see family. They want to go and see friends. They want to do business.

“We don’t use DNA in our domestic airports. It will obviously affect the international airports. It’s not good at all.”

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