Australia’s Qantas apologises to customers over lost baggage and cancellation of flights

The airline has hired 1,500 staff since April as it struggles to cope with soaring travel demand

Qantas planes at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, Australia. The airline's chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline is 'working hard' to remove travel bottlenecks. Reuters
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Australia’s Qantas Airways has apologised to its customers over issues related to lost baggage, as well as the cancellation and delay of flights, as travel demand rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic-induced slowdown.

In a video message posted on YouTube on Sunday, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline is "working hard" to remove the travel bottlenecks.

“On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise and assure you that we're working hard to get back to our best,” Mr Joyce said.

The airline has hired 1,500 more people since April to “have more crew in reserve to deal with a 50 per cent jump in sick leave".

Qantas is also introducing new technology to make travelling easier, he said, adding "things have already improved".

Alan Joyce, chief executive of Qantas Airways, said the airline is taking steps to streamline operations. AFP

The announcement from Qantas comes as air travel across the world gets hampered due to a shortage of staff amid an improvement in demand.

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.

Demand for air travel is recovering as border restrictions ease and people take advantage of the freedom to travel after two years of Covid-19 lockdowns.

International traffic in June more than tripled, driven by the lifting of restrictions in most parts of the Asia-Pacific, the International Air Travel Association (Iata) said.

Total air traffic in the month — measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) — rose more than two thirds, compared with June 2021, primarily propelled by an annual surge in international traffic of about 230 per cent, the global aviation body said in its monthly update released earlier this month.

The results put global traffic at about 71 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels, another improvement from May's 69 per cent.

Qantas, which has been hit hard by a labour shortage, has even requested senior executives 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 to deal with the situation, a senior official told the BBC earlier this month.

“Throughout this time, our customers have been very understanding," Mr Joyce said.

"So as well as saying sorry, we also want to say thank you. We know that what matters most though, is that your next journey is a smooth one. And that's why we are focused on getting Qantas back to its best."

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Updated: August 22, 2022, 12:52 AM