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In full: Qantas exec Andrew David responds to airline’s problems

written by Adam Thorn | July 18, 2022

Victor Pody shot this special Qantas 787-9, VH-ZNJ msn 7C806D, delivered in November 2019 to celebrate the airline’s centenary.

Qantas’ domestic and international CEO, Andrew David, has written an op-ed defending the airline after its recent problems. Here, we publish it in full.

Much has been said about Qantas in the last few months. Some of it’s fair, as we’re absolutely not delivering the service that our customers expect, but some of it fails to take into consideration what’s happening across the industry here and around the world.

So I want to explain how we got here, and what we’re doing to fix it.

The pandemic was very tough on aviation. Economically, most airlines were on their knees. Early in the pandemic we were 11 weeks from bankruptcy and have since posted $6 billion in losses and over $24 billion in lost revenue.

But because Qantas came into the pandemic in a strong position, and as a result of making some very difficult decisions, we’ve been able to weather the storm.There are number of factors that have led to the problems we are seeing right now.

Restarting an airline after a two-year grounding is complex and aviation labour markets, as with many others, are extremely tight. Compounding that is the fact that COVID-19 cases are steeply on the rise again at the same time as the winter flu season.

Some have pointed to Qantas’ decision to outsource ground handling as a key reason the restart has been hard. This is not true. We had completed the ground handling changes before Easter 2021 when domestic travel was back to almost 100 per cent, and we didn’t have the issues we had at Easter this year.

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Others are using scaremongering tactics by making safety claims that are baseless and simply false. Every supplier we work with must adhere to our strict safety management system — a system that sees us consistently rated with the safest airlines in the world. Sadly, this is not the first time false claims have been made by a union to further an industrial agenda.

The truth is that the difficulties we are facing now are because of COVID-19 and flu related sickness, as well as an extremely tight labour market. It’s a difficult truth that airlines, airports, air traffic control agencies and almost every business in Australia and around the world is experiencing.

We are working hard to proactively manage this challenge.

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We’ve recruited more than 1000 people, rostering more people on stand-by, consolidating flights onto bigger aircraft, basing more customer support team members at our airports and have doubled the number of people working in our call centres, with average wait times now better than they were pre-COVID-19.

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. In an unprecedented move, Heathrow Airport has capped the number of passengers travelling through the airport and asked airlines to stop selling seats over the European summer.

Given COVID-19 and the 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.

And there is a lot to be excited about.

Our new seasonal flights to Rome have proved so popular they will be back next year, in the next few months we will return to Tokyo and Santiago and soon we’ll start flying to Incheon and Bangalore. In the coming years we have new aircraft entering our fleet and we will launch Project Sunrise — the first ever direct flights between Australia’s east coast and London and New York.

Thank for your understanding and patience. And thank you for the kind words of support you have been providing our teams working at airports and on flights. They are doing an amazing job in challenging circumstances.

Comments (17)

  • Shaun

    says:

    Perhaps if Andrew David got out from behind his desk and went onto the frontline instead of writing meaningless drivel such as this, he might actually see what is happening to the frontline staff because of their decisions. Executives are overpaid…period. If they used that money to better then conditions and pay for frontline staff, perhaps they might be able to claw back even a skerrick of what the brand was. The travelling public have lost confidence.

  • Bryce

    says:

    What a load of crap. You took covid relief from the government and still got rid of staff. You lost a court case on your illegal sacking of ground staff yet your still fighting it . Stop treating staff like crap , stop executive bonuses and look after your staff . It’s not rocket science .

  • Kim Matheson

    says:

    Just PR spin & BS to justify the unjustifiable !!!
    So how many years of baggage handling from 2,000 workers went “out the door” …. compared to coming in with the “new” team ?????
    I think therein lies the answer to the current debacle for us travellers !!!

  • Helene Windsor

    says:

    Repay the money you received from the taxpayers purse.

  • Brett Dowsing

    says:

    Somewhat disappointing to read this after my recent experience flying QF 71 and 72 business class between Perth and Singapore a couple of weeks ago. The trip up was perfect the trip back a litany of issues:
    a. held on ground 30 minutes awaiting connecting flight from London,
    b. then a further 90 minutes due fuel pump problem and refuel required,
    c. dinner loaded was not that for Qantas (suspect Air Bangladesh),
    d. toiletry packs not loaded,
    e. arrived 2 hours late at 0200 in morning,
    f. met by Alan Joyce look-alike requesting passengers see him to find out whether baggage had arrived.
    On discussing with the Purser in-flight he explained the line in this article but was non-plussed when I explained that what really was annoying was being told by Joyce that “passengers were not travel ready” when in fact that was the case for Qantas and I was paying an extra $2000 more than pre-Covid for even less service! I didn’t ask what those in Economy got for their meal and must be grateful the entertainment system worked, the grog was loaded and the taxis were still at the airport when we walked out at 0245!!
    Anticipate my next o/s trip won’t be until this time next year when I hope things are back on track.

  • Stuart

    says:

    Thank you for the update, long long long overdue in these challenging circumstances world wide.

    I feel Qantas have been very fortunate to have so many loyal customers which is a testament to the aircrew and customer facing staff but critical of the executive and senior management who have been very cospicuous by their absence.

    Please continue to update your paying customers on a regular basis so that they can at least understand your issues. I am as disinterested in Union Opinions as “some”edia reporting when both are just generating interest by controversy

  • Robert

    says:

    Your words are cold comfort for someone who has had to spend thousands of dollars trying to address Qantas travel issues. Setting your Customer Care line to trip through to ‘Reservations’ in South Africa has infuriated me and thousands of others. Take responsibility for the mess you are in and start treating people like customers again, otherwise you won’t have any in the future.

  • Adam

    says:

    Easter last year half the country was seperated by border closures. The ground handling companies hired by Qantas haven’t got enough staff. In Sydney alone they are using subcontractors from 2 labour hire companies and one isn’t even avaition trained, which is why bags are being lossed, missed and sent to weong destinations.
    What Andrew David and the rest of Qantas heiracy have actually done is create a no blame blanket around themselves. They blame the contractors for the problems not themselves. They take no responsibility because subcontractors are employed to do that work. So no apology for any mistakes because it wasn’t them defense.

  • Brian

    says:

    Allan Joyce needs to take a pay cut and put qantas back to where it was. The old network planes from Perth to Paraburdoo are consistently breaking down and delay after delay on this sector. It won’t be long till one of them falls out of the sky.

    • Ashley

      says:

      He, the Board & other executives’ have already taken a huge pay cut since 2020, of 85%.

      The CEO, Mr Alan Joyce’s salary last two years’ was AUD2mn.

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    They really only have two problems. Joyce and greed. I suppose you could also throw in a complete disregard for staff, travel agents and passengers.

  • Steven

    says:

    So Qantas, if staff are a problem to this so called covid pandemic issue ! We’re all back to normal ……well country seems to be getting on with covid ,.Why don’t you offer those staff you made redundant , their jobs back ? I’ve been flying with Qantas for quite sometime now and it’s is worst I’ve ever seen it . Companies turning a negative into bonus grabbing positive for the top end of town Corporates

  • Paula Thomson

    says:

    All very well. No mention of the propping up done by the Australian Government during the pandemic and the fraudulent retention of customer money from cancelled Covid flights. Try getting a refund from Qantas. Hours spent on the phone, conflicting information, lies, delays and obfuscation. Scandalous and brand damaging.

  • Hein Vandenbergh

    says:

    That is a rubbish apologia. It fails to address the fact that the billions in covid support payments have not been used to run or protect the business but have gone to execs and shareholders. Stating that ‘all airlines are suffering’ is a bit like saying ‘all men beat their wives, so what’s wrong with me doing it?’ This pile of tribe explains nothing, addresses nothing, and offers little hope. The fact is, of course, that the pandemic has demonstrated that the financio-economic model of the industry is faulty, and that the serious defects which have been evident for many years – and left unaddressed – are now showing the industry’s model for what it is: unsustainable. Yet PAX are expected to continue to blindly fatten the airlines’ coffers, without anything much in return, not even the travel for which they paid. The so-called explanation proffered here is a head-in-the-sand obscenity.

  • I have now been waiting a year for Qantas to refund a cancelled ticket due to Covid. 6 calls, waiting for hours, and still no refund. A similar situation with SINGAPORE AIRLINES resulted in a refund in one week.
    I understand why people are not happy with the huge bonuses Q execs give thenselves. I shall not fly with what once used to be a good airline again!

  • Helen Tom

    says:

    Qantas cancelled my Bendigo- Sydney plane without notifying me. At 6.30 the next morning I had a text message saying I could catch the 7.00 am plane. I was already in Sydney having flown Virgin at extra expense and considerable inconvenience. I later spent 2 hours waiting to talk to qantas about my return trip, told I was booked but was sent the details of my cancelled leg. As they request I have sent a complaint,2 months later have not even had an acknowledgement that it has been received.

  • Mariedith kendall

    says:

    Perhaps as a manager you should go & check out some of the unanswered complaints. Mine is still there from months ago. I have another one now about your staff who are employed in the call centres. They give incorrect information. We are now out of pocket over $600 for baggage that was supposed to be included in our ticket to the USA. Clearly your ticket information is incorrect too. No the way to treat a qantas club ff & club member.

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