Estimated reading time 2 minutes 2 Min

Qantas asks execs to take on luggage duty as labour shortage bites

Qantas executives will work as baggage handlers for a three-month program as part of a contingency program to combat labour shortages, the airline announced.

August 8, 2022
By Mibenge Nsenduluka
8 August 2022

Senior executives at Qantas could soon trade their high-flying positions to work as ground handlers as part of a plan to combat labour shortages.

Qantas chief operating officer Colin Hughes told staff in an internal memo the company is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for a contingency program over a three-month period.

People who respond to the EOI will be trained and rostered into the ramp environment at Sydney and Melbourne airports.

It comes after at least 1600 baggage handlers were sacked during lockdown, with the service outsourced to contractors, a decision the Federal Court ruled was unlawful. Qantas previously vowed to appeal the decision, Hughes wrote inn the memo.

The executives turned baggage handlers would would support ground handling partners, who are managing the Qantas operation, over a three-month period from mid-August, Hughes said, noting that least 100 managers will be recruited to sort and scan bags and transport luggage would not do this work on top of their regular jobs. 

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

Qantas chief operating officer Colin Hughes

The once highly regarded airline recently apologised after a litany of complaints from frustrated passengers who have endured delayed and cancelled flights, long queues at airports and lost baggage in recent months.

The airline is hoping to address the problems by scheduling fewer flights in the next month and hiring more staff.

Qantas domestic and international chief executive Andrew David acknowledged the airline had been plagued with problems that let customers down in recent months, as the airline recovered from the COVID-19 lockdown period.

A Qantas spokesperson said the airline was committed to improving its services.

“We’ve been clear that our operational performance has not been meeting our customers’ expectations or the standards that we expect of ourselves – and that we’ve been pulling out all stops to improve our performance,” they said in a statement.

“As we have done in the past during busy periods, around 200 head office staff have helped at airports during peak travel periods since Easter.

“While we manage the impacts of a record flu season and ongoing COVID cases coupled with the tightest labour market in decades, we’re continuing that contingency planning across our airport operations for the next three months.”

More in Top Stories