Qantas Cuts Flights As Travel Chaos Continues

Australian airline Qantas is well versed in apologizing for its lousy customer service and ongoing operational problems, with an airline executive apologizing again for the airline’s recurring shortcomings. For the second time in a week, Andrew David, CEO of Qantas Domestic and International, appeared in a media interview to apologize and explain what was going on at Qantas.

Qantas consistently fails to meet passenger expectations

Qantas is in the news these days for all the wrong reasons. To be fair, many of the delays, cancellations, and customer service disasters aren’t the airline’s fault, but many are. With the airline profiling itself as a premium carrier and charging accordingly, the Australian public is far less forgiving Qantas than, for example, a low-cost airline that charges rock-bottom prices.


Earlier this week, local media ran stories and images of passenger queues stretching outside terminal doors and on approach roads at major Australian airports. Last month, just 58.7% of Qantas domestic flights departed on time and just 59.4% arrived on time. Almost 1,500 Qantas domestic flights were canceled during the month.

Another apology from Qantas

The waits to speak to Qantas’ notoriously poor call centers (mostly outsourced and overseas based) are gone again. Baggage goes AWOL, and aircraft engineers, ground handlers, and catering staff (the last two groups are almost all outsourced too) are all threaten to go on strike.

“My apologies to all your listeners,‘ Mr David told Sydney radio station 2GB this week.’We are the national carrier, people have high expectations of us, we have high expectations of ourselves and in recent months we have clearly not delivered what we were doing before COVID.”

Mr David seems to have lost out at Qantas these days. Other executives, including CEO Alan Joyce, lie deep. At the same time, Mr David has published an op-ed apologizing, went on breakfast TV and had to apologize on talkback radio this week.

Persistent problems with customer service and reliability tarnish Qantas’ self-proclaimed image as Australia’s premium airline. Photo: Getty Images

Routes fell due to capacity cuts

Andrew David says Qantas is doing a lot to address its own shortcomings, including reducing domestic capacity to improve its operational reliability. This isn’t new news – Qantas had previously said it would reduce domestic capacity during the southern hemisphere winter. Many of these capacity reductions have been achieved by trimming services on high-frequency links, such as Sydney (SYD) – Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney – Brisbane. But elsewhere on Qantas’ domestic network, routes are quietly disappearing from the map, including Mount Gambier (MGB) – Melbourne, Alice Springs (ASP) – Perth (PER)and Wagga Wagga (WGA) – Melbourne.

“We have reduced some of our flights this month and we are planning to do the same next month given the operational pressures we are having,” Mr David said 2GB.

Bad weather on Australia’s east coast, staff shortages at airports and contractors, and engineered equipment at airports are beyond Qantas’ control but are also contributing to the airlines’ woes. And Qantas is not the only airline facing challenges, but Qantas, which long ago proclaimed itself the patron saint of airline excellence, is under intense scrutiny.

“It’s a difficult truth that airlines, airports, air traffic control authorities and almost every business in Australia and around the world have to face,” wrote Mr David in his July 17 op-ed, referring to the chaos art of airports and airlines around the world. “As challenging as recent travel spikes in Australia have been, airlines and airports in Europe, the US and the UK are dealing with a far worse impact.

“As COVID and flu continue, there will still be a few bumps along the way, but over the coming weeks and months flying will be as smooth as it used to be.”

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