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Qantas claims comeback to beat Virgin on delays

written by Adam Thorn | October 13, 2022

Victor Pody shot these two 737-800s, including 16-year-old VH-VYD

Qantas has claimed to have performed better than rival Virgin on delays in September — despite months of it being the worst-performing airline in Australia.

The business said in its latest market update that its ‘on-time performance’ increased from 67 per cent in August to 69 per cent the following month.

While the numbers have yet to be publicly verified by the department of transport, it would prove a remarkable turnaround after slumping to just 45 per cent in July.

In 2022, the Flying Kangaroo 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.

Across the industry, school holidays have led to the worst delays on record in April, June and July as carriers battled pandemic sick leave, skill shortages, and bad weather.


However, on Thursday, Qantas claimed its current October cancellation rate of 1.7 per cent was “market leading” and “better than pre-COVID” levels.

The business said the improvement was due to both keeping capacity in reserve for difficult periods and investing in training and recruiting staff.

In total, it said it would invest $200 million for the remainder of the financial year to roster additional crew, train of new recruits and pay for overtime in contact centres.

It also said its new “conservative’ approach to scheduling means 20 per cent of its available seats will be left in reserve.

“This includes up to 10 narrow-body, six wide-body and four regional aircraft on standby across Qantas and Jetstar,” said the business in a statement. “This capacity can be gradually added back as certainty improves, and the additional cost is expected to be similarly temporary.”

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said “It’s been a really challenging time for the national carrier but today’s announcement shows how far we’ve come.

“Since August, we’ve seen a big improvement in our operational performance and an acceleration in our financial performance.

“It’s clear that maintaining our pre-COVID service levels requires a lot more operational buffer than it used to, especially when you consider the sick leave spikes and supply chain delays that the whole industry is dealing with.

“That means having more crew and more aircraft on standby and adjusting our flying schedule to help make that possible, until we’re confident that extra support is no longer needed.

“Qantas’ operations are largely back to the standards people expect, and Jetstar’s performance has improved significantly in the past few weeks and will keep getting better with the extra investments we’re making.”

It comes as the ACCC revealed last month how domestic airlines had been significantly reducing capacity to mitigate the delays and cancellations caused by staff shortages and sickness.

The competition watchdog revealed the cut in seats for sale during the last few months came despite the local industry hitting 97 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger numbers in June.

It followed separate Cirium figures that showed Virgin, Qantas, and Air New Zealand were named among the global airlines with the current highest cancellation rates.

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Comments (5)

  • Arnold


    Don’t know what Bain’s doing with Virgin.
    They don’t seem to be inputting $ to it.

    Do they just want it to run down to nothing?

    • Rocket


      I think they’re finding it a little bit more difficult than they anticipated. There was a LOT of dead wood in Virgin, time-servers, particularly in the corporate areas and management ranks, some of which have been commented on in these pages, via comments sections and while a lot of those have been cleaned out, a lot are still hanging around. I don’t know how, but some people seem to have ability to survive anything, rivalling even cockroaches in a post-nuclear world.

      Sadly, to get the place operating as a REAL airline should, with reasoned and long-term decisions that make sense, it sort of needs to basically have everyone let go (except for the front lines, crew and pilots) and basically start again. All the stories about toxicity, the toxic environment was alive and well and virulent long before Bain and the new management came along. Many of us were let go for nothing more than knowing what the hell we were doing.

  • Norm Grant


    You have got to be joking..if I did what Qantas are doing to their clients. I would be out of business..I left hobart yesterday 2pm via Brisbane to Newcastle. It is now Saturday Nd I am still stuck in Brisbane airport the Brisbane to Newcastle last nite was cancelled. They said I was booked on Jetstars flight 6AM this morning only to be told at airport that the flight was full and I was now booked the 11.50 flight to Newcastle. At about 11.25 that flight was cancelled????. I am now booked on the 16.45 flight to Newcastle. And they would not give me a guarantee that that fight will Proceed???? . And the worst part is they don’t give a stuff. Give you a $15 voucher and that fixes it.. no Mr Joyce get off your fat paid behind and fix what was once a great airline. No more excuses.because we don’t believe you

    • Rocket


      I’d suggest if you were in Frankfurt trying to get to Paris or similar like your scenario above, it would be no different. This is not just Qantas and Virgin but all over the industry. To add insult to injury, the new ‘plastic fantastic’ Boeing and Airbus carbon fibre aircraft are starting to have paint peel off and are highly susceptible to expensive damage due to lightening strikes. Just ask Jetstar who have been crippled by aircraft out of service (practically brand new aircraft) and inability to get parts quickly because of global supply chain problems.
      Not saying Qantas or the other airlines have handled this perfectly but at the core, it has nothing to do with contracting out ground handling or anything else, it’s an entire industry that was shut down for nearly 2 years – can you imagine if something meant Doctors and Nurses couldn’t work for 2 years, imagine what the result would be when they started up again.

  • Gordon Farr


    Re Photo. Back aircraft is not a Boeing 737. Looks like an Airbus to me?

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