Qantas Cuts Flights As Travel Chaos Continues

Australian airline Qantas is becoming very well practiced in apologizing for its lousy customer service and ongoing operational problems, with a senior executive from the airline again saying sorry for the airline’s recurring shortfalls. For the second time in a week, Qantas domestic and international CEO Andrew David fronted up for a media interview to apologize and explain what was happening at Qantas.

Qantas continually fails to meet passenger expectations

Qantas is in the news for all the wrong reasons these days. To be fair, many of the delays, cancellations, and customer service disasters aren’t the airline’s fault, but many are. With the airline styling itself as a premium carrier and charging accordingly, the Australian public is far less forgiving of Qantas than it is of, say, a low-cost carrier charging rock-bottom ticket prices.


Earlier this week, local media carried stories and images of passenger queues stretching outside terminal doors and down access roads at key Australian airports. Last month, only 58.7% of Qantas domestic flights departed on time, and only 59.4% arrived on time. Almost Qantas domestic 1,500 flights were canceled over the month.

Yet another Qantas apology

Wait times to speak to the notoriously bad Qantas call centers (mostly outsourced and located offshore) are blowing out again. Luggage is going AWOL, and aircraft engineers, ground handlers, and catering staff (the latter two groups also almost all outsourced) are all threatening to strike.

“My apology to all your listeners,“Mr David told Sydney radio station 2GB this week.”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. “

Mr David appears to have drawn the short straw at Qantas these days. Other executives, including Group CEO Alan Joyce, are lying low. At the same time, Mr David has published an op-ed saying sorry, gone on breakfast TV saying sorry, and this week had to go on talkback radio to say sorry.

Ongoing customer service and reliability issues are tarnishing Qantas’ self styled image as Australia’s premium airline. Photo: Getty Images

Routes dropped amid capacity cuts

Andrew David says Qantas is doing plenty to address its own shortfalls, including cutting domestic capacity to smooth out its operational reliability. That’s not new news –Qantas had already said it was cutting domestic capacity over the Southern Hemisphere winter. Many of those capacity cuts have been achieved by trimming services on high-frequency routes, such as Sydney (SYD) –Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney –Brisbane. But elsewhere around the Qantas domestic network, routes are quietly disappearing off the map, including Mount Gambier (MGB)- Melbourne, Alice Springs (ASP) –Perth (PER), and Wagga Wagga (WGA) –Melbourne.

“We have reduced some of our flying this month, and we’re planning to do the same next month, recognizing the operational pressures we have,” Mr David told 2GB.

Ogoing bad weather on Australia’s east coast, labor shortages at airports and contractors, and equipment going tech at airports are beyond Qantas’s control but also contributing to airline problems. And Qantas isn’t the only airline facing challenges, but having long ago appointed itself the patron saint of airline excellence, Qantas finds itself under intense scrutiny.

“It’s a difficult truth that airlines, airports, air traffic control intervention, and almost every business in Australia and around the world is experiencing,” wrote Mr David in his July 17 op-ed referencing the chaos art airports and airlines around the world. “As challenging as the recent travel peaks in Australia have been, airlines and airports in Europe, the US, and the UK are dealing with far worse impacts.

“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.”

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