australian aviation logo

Qantas says Four Corners safety claims are ‘baseless’

written by Adam Thorn | September 6, 2022

Qantas has said claims aired on Four Corners that staff cuts have reduced safety standards are “baseless” and “generalised”.

In a statement issued on Monday, the airline said that there are now fewer hazards since ground handling roles were outsourced and argued program makers never approached CASA regarding its accusations.

The ABC’s flagship investigative program on Monday made a series of allegations, including that the remaining employees are working longer hours and working at “max capacity”.

However, Qantas said in response that aviation is one of Australia’s most closely regulated industries, and the business is subject to “considerable oversight” from CASA.


“We have an established safety management system for managing all aspects of safety, including fatigue. Fatigue risk is managed using data, and medical advice and employees are encouraged to report fatigue,” said Qantas.

“We note that the unions are not making these claims of other airlines, most of whom use the same ground handling firms as Qantas and who have had similar, and in some cases worse operational performance due to staffing challenges.”

Four Corners also claimed there were safety concerns because of Qantas’s decision to outsourced 2,000 in-house ground handling roles to third-party companies last year.

“Data shows a lower rate of incidents compared to when ground handling was done in-house. Proactive hazard reporting rates are also higher since outsourcing, demonstrating a strong reporting culture by the employees of these ground handlers.

“Qantas used outsourced ground handlers for many years in a total of 55 of 65 ports across Australia, which the union did not regard as a safety concern. The decision during the COVID crisis was to outsource the remaining 10 ports, including to companies that already worked for Qantas as well as multiple other airlines.”

It also said that it’s not far to highlight that the airline now employs fewer engineers because its maintenance requirements are much lower.

“This is due to the fact we are flying less [international capacity is at ~60%], have seven less A380s in service than pre-COVID and retired one of the most maintenance-intensive part of our fleet in the 747s.

“As more aircraft return to service and international flying returns to pre-COVID levels, we will recruit more engineers. Qantas does 90 per cent of its aircraft maintenance in Australia. No other airline does heavy maintenance in Australia.”

The program’s airing comes a week before Dnata ground handlers, contracted by Qantas, are due to strike for 24 hours.

The TWU’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, argued his members are facing a “downward spiral of wages and conditions” and are only guaranteed 20 hours per week.

“Ground handling is a highly-skilled job, but thousands of experienced workers have been forced out of the industry by Qantas’ illegal outsourcing and the Morrison government refusing Dnata workers JobKeeper,” said Kaine. “Those that are left are scrambling to pick up the pieces for scraps.”

Dnata told Australian Aviation in response its pay offer was “highly competitive” and argued the TWU had shown “little willingness” to bridge the divide on outstanding issues.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

Comments (2)

  • Kim


    Does any on watch 4 corners any more??

  • Steve


    Meanwhile at Jetstar, they have grounded half the fleet claiming lightning, runway debris, passengers not being match fit.

    How do bags get lost due to passengers not being used to flying? did they forget how to put their baggage on the self-service conveyor belt.

    Less safety incidents, cause there are less aircraft flying.

    No mention of domestic demand is back to pre-covid levels, except at Alan Joyce’s results press conference.

    Qantas claims they can easily rehire more engineers at the drop of a hat? cause there are so many unemployed at the moment, i mean that is the issue, not being able to recruit, see the job fairs at Sydney Airport.

    There are issues, management double speak wont hide this fact.

Comments are closed.

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.