Qantas Domestic and International chief executive Andrew David has again apologised to customers for flight disruptions and said the airline will slash flight schedules in July and August to avoid similar chaos in the months ahead.
Speaking on 2GB on Wednesday, David also defended the airline and blamed several external factors impacting the airline’s performance.
“We are the national carrier, people have high expectations of us and we have high expectations of ourselves. And clearly, over the law few months, we have not been delivering what we did pre-COVID,” he said.
However, David claimed there were a number of areas where Qantas had improved its recent performance back to near pre-COVID-19 levels.
After seeing dozens of customers flock to social media to report eight-hour plus wait times for phone customer service, David said Qantas had directed significant resources into their call centre systems, improving wait times to “single digit” times during last week.
Meanwhile, he also diverted blame for recent extensive delays and cancellations faced by travellers at Sydney airport over the last week, stating that errors with a baggage belt and the airport’s guidance system used to direct landing aircraft were behind the disruption.
David shrugged off suggestions that the cancellations and luggage issues were more significant than usual.
“I can tell you our cancellation rate is now back close to where it was pre-COVID. It’s not quite there yet. I can tell you our mishandled bags [rate] is almost where it was pre-COVID too.”
“On average pre-COVID we had about five mishandled bags in every 1000 … Yesterday was about seven, so we are close to that.”
When prompted about what the company was doing to improve its performance in the near future, David spoke of plans to reduce scheduled flights in the coming months in addition to hiring more staff.
“We’re doing two things … One, we have reduced some of our flying this month, and we’re planning to do the same next month, recognising the operational pressures we have.”
“Two, we are hiring more people. Since Easter, we have hired 1000 people into the organisation and our ground handlers have increased their resources by on average 15%.”
David’s defence of Qantas operations comes after scenes of chaos at Sydney airport on Monday, with security lines stretching out to the street and 13 Qantas flights cancelled.
It is the second time the CEO has had to publicly defend the airline this month, after David authored an op-ed responding to the problems faced by the airline.