Qantas’ head of domestic and international operations, Andrew David, has attacked “scaremongering” unions and insisted the airline’s current problems are not a result of outsourcing roles.
In an op-ed published at the weekend, David admitted the airline is “absolutely not delivering” on service but argued its problems are being replicated around the world.
In 2022, Qantas has faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easter, hours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy. Last year, the Federal Court ruled the Flying Kangaroo was wrong to outsource 2,000 ground handling roles and subsequently rejected an initial appeal.
However, David — Qantas’ Domestic and International CEO — wrote on Sunday there have been a “number of factors” that have led to its problems.
“Restarting an airline after a two-year grounding is complex and aviation labour markets, as with many others, are extremely tight,” he said. “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.
“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 and flu related sickness, as well as an extremely tight labour market.”
Australian Aviation is publishing the full op-ed here.
It came as the TWU attacked David personally for being awarded a bonus in shares, alongside other executives.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine called the grant the “epitome of management under Alan Joyce”.
“Qantas’ performance has plummeted following the illegal sackings of nearly 2,000 skilled groundworkers,” said Kaine. “One month after a second Federal Court ruling that the outsourcing broke the law, the person the court found responsible for the illegal decision, Andrew David, was awarded a bonus over $1.1 million when he should have been sacked.
“This is a sickening betrayal to illegally sacked workers, disrupted passengers, and Australian taxpayers whose support propped up the airline while executives made cruel decisions that destroyed lives.
“Qantas executives have turned a once cherished airline into a national disgrace, and Alan Joyce is paying out rewards.”
Qantas denies any wrongdoing over outsourcing, and has filed a new appeal in Australia’s High Court.