Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce has proclaimed that the carrier is now “back to its best”, following last year’s issues with flight delays, cancellations and misplaced baggage.
In an op-ed Joyce admitted that “Six months ago, a lot of people felt we’d let them down and the figures showed why”.
“Almost half our flights were late, our rate of misplaced bags had more than doubled and we were cancelling up to 7 per cent of our schedule,” he continued.
“Perception wise, it didn’t help that this came after some controversial restructuring decisions to make sure we survived Covid.
“And it didn’t matter that airlines around the world had the same problems as travel restarted. If your flight to the Gold Coast just got cancelled, it doesn’t make you feel any better if the delays are worse in Amsterdam.
“Knowing that we were routinely letting customers down was hugely disappointing for everyone at Qantas. It’s the exact opposite of our culture.”
In August last year Qantas apologised to Frequent Flyer members for recent operational challenges, and rolled out a number of benefits as a “thank you” for their patience, including an A$50 off flight promo code, status extensions and points bonuses.
Qantas apologises to loyalty members with $50 credit and status extension
Joyce said that “almost every week” after that point “things improved”, and pointed to figures showing that Qantas had been the most on-time of the major domestic airlines for five months in a row.
He also addressed complaints about higher fares, stating that the carrier has been forced to reduce its schedules “to make our operations more reliable”, resulting in “less supply and lots of demand”.
Joyce said that this combined with higher fuel prices “flows through to how much you pay for a flight”.
But he said that the ramp up in capacity by both Qantas and their competitors means “you can expect to see fares trend down”.
Joyce will no doubt also be conscious of the recent launch of Bonza, a low-cost start-up which was announced just over a year ago and finally took to the skies this week.
This week Qantas announced plans for a new route between Melbourne and Jakarta, alongside a flash sale promotion with up to 35 per cent of 170,000 seats on international routes.
Finally Joyce addresses the issue of air returns (where a flight is forced to turn back due to engineering issues).
He said that “These have received a huge amount of attention because we had several in quick succession, but despite the hype, they are actually a symptom of strong safety systems”.
“Our pilots always err on the side of caution because that’s what we train them to do,” said Joyce.
“If an onboard system isn’t working the way it should, they will often decide to land rather than pressing on to the destination. I congratulate them for doing that and encourage them to keep doing it. And despite the obvious inconvenience, I think most of our customers do, too.”
Joyce said that the industry sees “well over 10,000 air returns a year”, with Qantas’ figures around 60 per year or 1 per 2,000 flights, which he stressed was “no change from our average rate of turn backs before and after Covid”.