Qantas executives asked to help with baggage handling for three months

Labour shortages have blighted airlines around the world as travel demand rebounds

Qantas aircraft on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport. Reuters
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Senior executives at the office of Australian airline Qantas Airways have been asked to help out with baggage handling for three months to support airport operations.

The airline is seeking 100 volunteers to work at airports in Sydney and Melbourne amid a labour shortage.

“The high levels of winter flu and a Covid spike across the community, coupled with the ongoing tight labour market, make resourcing a challenge across our industry,” Qantas' chief operating officer Colin Hughes said in an email shared with the BBC.

“There is no expectation that you will opt into this role on top of your full-time position.”

Staff would need to help with loading and unloading bags, plus driving vehicles around the airports to transport the baggage.

Applicants will need to be able to move suitcases weighing up to 32 kilograms, and have been requested to work in the roles for three or five days a week, the email said.

While the global air travel industry is in the midst of a post-coronavirus rebound, airlines around the world have struggled to keep up with hiring sufficient staff after the mass layoffs that began soon after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many employees who were laid off during the pandemic have moved into other occupations with more flexible work options. This has led to chaos at airports and capacity cuts at airlines.

In the UK, Heathrow airport has been blighted by a staff shortage, which led to a halt in short-haul ticket sales and a capacity cap to tackle disruption and cancellations.

Staffing shortages are forcing airlines to cut capacity below planned levels, hampering their ability to serve the stronger-than-expected recovery in air travel demand, Moody's Investors Service said in a June report.

It takes time to train new employees and obtain their security clearances, which will remain challenging during 2022 and 2023 for several companies, the agency said.

Boeing last month raised its 20-year global demand forecast for commercial airline pilots and other aviation workers by 3.4 per cent compared with what it projected in 2021.

The US plane maker now projects a need for 602,000 pilots, 610,000 maintenance technicians and 899,000 cabin crew members to safely support the recovery in commercial air travel and staff the fleet over the next two decades, according to its latest Pilot and Technician Outlook.

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Updated: August 09, 2022, 10:52 AM
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