- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Brisbane Airport, Melbourne Airport, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport
- Year Founded:
- Alan Joyce
Having completely lost the goodwill of its passengers, Qantas has got on the front foot by publishing its own report card. The good news for long-suffering customers is that the airline is getting its act together, and although it has a long way to go, things are on the up for the flying kangaroo.
This looks like a new approach from Qantas
Today’s report card is a smart move by Qantas, as rather than the CEO lecturing customers to get “match fit,” the airline is now telling everyone what it is doing to make traveling better. The reality is that the airline, once Australia’s most favored brand, is doing a lot to make the whole flying experience smoother and more enjoyable, it just hasn’t told us much about it. September is traditionally a busy time for Australian airlines, with school holidays, major football competition finals and long weekends pushing demand up rapidly.
Based on the performance statistics Qantas released today, it has risen to meet those challenges. In the first two weeks of this month, the numbers of flight delays, cancelations and mishandled bags have all fallen. On-time performance has improved from 52% of flights arriving or departing on time in July to 67% in August and 71% between September 1 -14. In not much more than a month, the odds of your flight being on time have jumped from a toss of the coin 50/50 to a seven in ten chance of hitting the schedule.
Flight cancelations, which often result in the most angst for passengers, have also improved significantly and are now below pre-COVID levels. In June, 7.5% of flights were canceled, which markedly improved in August to 4%. In the first half of this month, cancelations are just 2% of scheduled flights, compared to the pre-COVID rate of 2.4%. Qantas says these are often due to aircraft serviceability or crew availability, with “safety always coming before schedule.”
Where’s my bag?
From those figures, it’s clear that the chances of your Qantas flight actually operating and then keeping to its schedule have greatly increased in the last month. This leaves the thorny issue of delayed or lost bags, which the airline describes as mishandled. Qantas says these are at pre-Covid levels, with mishandled bags at six per 1000 passengers overall and five per 1000 passengers for domestic services, down from 12 in 1000 in April. These figures are actually an improvement as the airline is seeing more bags being checked in per customer as traffic rebounds.
Why have things improved?
The keen-eyed readers would have noticed the comments on the left-hand side of the charts, where Qantas share some of what they have done to lift their game. Today they shared some more of the actions that have recently been implemented, both by Qantas and its airport partners and service providers. Since COVID struck, almost every airport in the world has accelerated the shift to automated check-in technology. In Australia, Qantas has rolled out 120 new technology self-service kiosks across its network, which are four times faster than the units they have replaced. Australians are well documented as early adopters of technology, and today more than 80% of Qantas customers are checking in online.
On the people side, more than 1,500 additional staff have joined the Qantas Group airlines since April. These new people have filled roles, including cabin crew, airport customer service staff and engineers. Qantas says it is continuing to recruit more staff, also noting that their ground handling suppliers have increased their workforce by 25% since April. Baggage handling has been a touchy subject ever since Qantas walked away from its people and outsourced it to third-party suppliers. Increasing the workforce by 25% is a costly exercise, so it would be interesting to know who is picking up the tab on that one.
Now that baggage services are under control, Qantas is encouraging customers to check in bags and stay within their carry-on allowances. The airline says this will avoid boarding delays caused by “overhead baggage Tetris, despite our crew’s skill in this area.” Having traveled on Jetstar, a Qantas Group airline, last week, it was clear that carry-on limits were not being enforced, negatively impacting boarding and leaving the aircraft.
The most important thing about today’s report card is not mentioned anywhere. That’s the fact that Qantas seems to have, at last, recognized the harm it was doing to the airline and its standing and has looked inward to do something about it. Hopefully, today marks the start of much better times for the airline, its staff and its customers.