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Qantas coronavirus cleaning standards slammed by health regulator

written by Adam Thorn | March 5, 2020

NSW’s safety watchdog has said Qantas’ cleaning standards are so poor they could put passengers at risk of coronavirus.

The extraordinary findings, seen by the SMH, came after a recent inspection noted how cleaners were wiping tray tables without disinfectant and performing tasks such as handling soiled nappies and dirty tissues without wearing “protective equipment” for “the majority of these tasks”.

SafeWork NSW has issued Qantas with an “improvement notice” and ordered the airline to develop a new system specifically to deal with COVID-19.

Qantas strongly rebutted the findings, saying in a statement, “All of our Fleet Presentation teams are provided with personal protective equipment for cleaning the aircraft and for more hazardous items, we have additional equipment such as masks and safety suits.”

The company added it was considering appealing the notice.


According to the newspaper’s investigation, SafeWork NSW issued the notice on 26 February after an inspector found that workers and passengers could be at risk due to its “inadequate system of work used to clean planes that may have transported passengers with an infectious disease”.

The safety notice apparently stated that the inspector watched on as cleaners wiped over plane tray tables with the same cloth without disinfectant, and cleaned “unknown liquids” on surfaces.

The inspector also saw cleaners handling used tissues, used face masks and soiled nappies.

Workers told the safety watchdog they occasionally had to clean up blood and vomit, too.

A Qantas spokesperson told Australian Aviation, “We are investigating claims made by SafeWork NSW, after an inspector observed one of our aircraft being cleaned in Sydney last week. We are considering appealing the notice.

“Our aircraft are thoroughly cleaned after each international flight.”

The findings come on the same day 9 News reported that a Qantas worker was stood down for raising concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

Qantas responded in a statement to the broadcaster, “A TWU delegate was stood down pending an investigation after incorrectly telling employees it was not safe to work on aircraft arriving from China.

“This is against the advice of health authorities and despite additional safety equipment being provided to employees.”

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Comments (7)

  • Steve


    Passengers know had badly aircraft are cleaned despite the expected push back from QF. Recently flew ANZ to Sydney and food was smeared over the seatback.

    • Shane


      cost cutting has a lot to do with it Steve. Imagine what domestic is like. Only cleaned at the end of the day

  • Ross


    Just like trains and hospitals – assume they are not clean and take your own disinfectant wipes.

  • Peter Ehrler


    On my last QANTAS flight, I had a good look below the seat in front of me where the seat is connected to the floor and the carpets patches around them. The filth, muck, rest of food and dust was almost as high as the carpet itself. That was a B737-800. This was not the first time I have noticed this on QANTAS aircraft

  • Suellen


    Returned from Hong Kong on Qantas A330 last week and cleaned our tables,seats and any nearby surfaces with disinfectant wipes. They came away filthy and I could not get some spill marks off my fold down table. We continued using the wipes and hand sanitizer throughout the flight .

  • Col


    I think the main story is, how did the inspector get on board to view this??? is that a breach of security or is it just a crock?

  • Kathleen Smith


    Could I say I was disgusted at a Brisbane Airport coffee shop by staff bringing out your coffee, taking dirty cups back, picking up food, not wiping down tables in between customers coming and going, not wearing gloves no hand sanitizer or wipes for customers. Pretty poir all around.

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