Qantas and Jetstar are preparing to fly more than 350,000 customers across Australia over the next four days, with many families returning home to NSW, ACT and WA as the school holidays come to an end.
Last week, severe weather in NSW and a spike in COVID and flu cases for operating crew caused high numbers of flight delays and cancellations for all domestic airlines. Despite the challenges, Qantas was able to get 85 per cent of domestic flights to depart within an hour of schedule.
This week, Qantas and Jetstar operations have improved but are still being impacted by rising COVID cases and the flu for operating crew.
Both airlines have continued to put in place measures to improve their operations and are working with airports and suppliers to ensure customer disruptions are minimised over the holiday period.
- Qantas and Jetstar are using larger Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 aircraft, which usually operate international flights, on some domestic flights this weekend.
- Jetstar has deployed a spare aircraft and more customer support team members to assist in Perth.
- More staff being rostered on standby to lessen the impact of COVID and other illness.
- Ground handling suppliers have increased staff levels by 15 per cent since the school holidays.
- More than 1000 operational team members have been recruited since Easter, including cabin crew, airport customer service, pilots and engineers. Hundreds of additional contact centre staff have helped reduce Qantas’ average call wait times to below pre-COVID levels.
We thank customers for their patience during what is traditionally a very busy time and thank our people for their hard work over these school holidays and beyond.
RESPONSES TO UNION CLAIMS
Claim: The ALAEA says flight cancellations relate to staff shortages and poor management.
Fact: The issues that all airlines are facing now with delayed flights and cancellations are because of the spike in COVID throughout the community leading to higher sickness levels from crew, as well as the economy and industry wide tight labour market. This is affecting other airlines, airports and air traffic control across Australia and around the world. This is not just a Qantas issue.
We are seeing things improve. Our mishandled bag rate is back to less than one in a hundred. It’s close to what it was pre-pandemic. Our call centre wait times are now in the minutes, not the hours that they were. Our on time performance isn’t where it needs to be but we’re continuing to make changes and are confident that we’ll continue to improve and get back to the levels we were pre-COVID.
As challenging as the recent travel peaks in Australia have been, it’s worth looking overseas for comparisons. Airlines and airports in Europe, the US and the UK are dealing with far worse impacts. In an unprecedented move this week, Heathrow Airport put a cap on passengers travelling through the airport and asked airlines to stop selling seats over the European summer.
Union claim: The current delays and cancellations are because Qantas outsourced its ground handling.
Facts: The operational challenges that we are experiencing are not because of the decision made 18 months ago to outsource ground handling. In Easter 2021 we had already outsourced all of our ground handling and operated nearly as much capacity as we did this year, yet we had no operational issues. The issues we are facing now are because COVID is throughout the community which is resulting in higher sickness levels for our employees, as well as the tight labour market.
We have been using these ground handling suppliers in 55 of the 65 airports we fly to for a long time, in some cases over a decade. They’re specialist ground handlers, and they manage many airlines in many airports around Australia and around the world