Qantas has announced it’s set to close its sales and service desks at all airports and lounges from early next year, as customers shift to booking online.
However, the airline has maintained it will still retain 1,500 customer service reps to deal with issues such as cancelled flights or to help those with mobility problems. It also predicts the 100 lost roles will come from an already oversubscribed voluntary redundancy program.
The business’ executive manager of product and service, Phil Capps, said “an increasing shift” towards booking through apps was the main driver of the decision.
“This was happening before COVID but it has accelerated significantly since,” said Capps. “Given that shift, we can’t ignore the efficiencies that come with removing the traditional sales desks, particularly in the current environment.
“While most employees will be redeployed, we expect most or all job losses will be voluntary redundancies.”
The business also said it will move some of those currently stationed on the service desks to assisting customers at check-in kiosks.
The news comes after the wider Qantas group announced in June it would cut 6,000 jobs altogether, or nearly 20 per cent of its workforce. Two months later, the airline said a further 2,500 ground handling jobs could be lost if proposals to outsource the operation were accepted.
The drastic cuts followed the business’ full-year financial results showing a loss before tax of $2.7 billion and an underlying profit before tax of just $124 million.
However, earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported that Qantas and Jetstar will increase the number of flights per week between Victoria and NSW from just 10 to 250 when the border opens.
The new services, across five routes, will return the business to 40 per cent pre-pandemic capacity and mean more employees can return to work.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday that NSW would become the first state to remove movement restrictions to Victoria on 23 November. She told reporters the decision is a “calculated risk” but that it was important to “keep moving forward”.
Currently, the Qantas Group is only operating flights between Sydney and Melbourne but later this month that will include services to and from Ballina Byron Bay, Mildura, Newcastle and Bendigo.
The shift towards technology echoes moves by Avalon Airport in Victoria, which has used the downtime caused by COVID to introduced ‘touchless’ check-in and bag drop kiosks alongside a security system that means passengers can keep their laptop in their bag.