Qantas has extended its minimum time for outbound international connections from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, as another strategy to reduce mishandled and missing baggage for customers.
The new change will come into effect from 21 August and apply to all Qantas new and existing bookings that include a domestic connection ahead of an outbound international flight.
Passengers who already have a booking that no longer meets to 90-minute minimum connection time will be contacted and moved on to an earlier flight at no extra cost, Qantas said.
The move has been made in an effort to give staff on the ground more time to move bags onto flight connections, and reduce the number of cases of missing bags for overseas travellers, after the airline’s average rate of mishandled bags rose to 9 in 1000.
“While there are lots of good reasons why, the simple fact is our operational performance hasn’t been up to the standard our customers are used to, or that we expect of ourselves,” said Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce.
“We are taking additional steps to get back to our best, which have been shaped by feedback from our frontline teams who are doing a phenomenal job under tough circumstances.
“Bringing our operations back to pre-COVID-19 standard and maintaining our focus on safety is our absolute priority.”
The change is the result of daily crisis meetings with Qantas executives in an effort to improve performance, after ongoing critique of the airline’s performance amid an industry-wide skills shortage.
The issue has seen Qantas face increased criticism in recent weeks, after the airline posted the worst on-time performance out of all Australian carrier in June, with nearly 50 per cent of all flights either delayed or cancelled. The result saw Qantas named among the global airlines with the worst cancellation rate by Cirium.
Most recently, the airline has been accused of failing to board bags onto aircraft and losing or damaging them in the process, as well as leaving passengers stranded at airports around the world after cancelling flights last-minute.
Earlier this week, news broke that Qantas had called on its upper management and executives to roll up their sleeves and work as baggage handlers under a three-month “contingency program” to battle staff shortages and flight disruption.
Notably, it followed an earlier decision by Qantas to outsource 2,000 of its in-house ground handlers last year, in a move that the Federal Court later ruled was done in partial violation of the Fair Work Act.
“During your time in the contingency program, you’ll be an embedded resource within the ground handling partners,” chief operating officer Colin Hughes said in an internal note to staff about the program.
“This means you’ll receive a roster, be scheduled to operate, and be supervised and managed in the live operations by our ground handling partners.”
Hughes added that there would be “no expectation” that staff would opt into the role on top of their usual full-time duties.