Qantas CEO Alan Joyce admits the airline has let its passengers down and has promised to bring the airline back ‘to its best’ while offering a host of compensation measures to the airline’s 14 million frequent flyers .
“Over the past few months, too many of you have had delayed flights, canceled flights and misplaced luggage,” a gloomy Joyce says in a video sent to all Qantas Frequent Flyer members on Monday August 22. .
“There are good reasons for that, but when it comes to what you expect from Qantas, it’s not good enough.”
“On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologize,” Joyce continues.
“We know that what matters most is that your next journey goes smoothly, and that’s why we’re focused on getting Qantas back to its best.”
Joyce is the latest executive to address the airline’s ongoing problems, including long wait times for call centers, delayed and canceled flights, lost luggage and a litany of other issues that have plagued the airline since earlier. this year, especially as international travel rebounded, only to be met with chaos.
These saw Qantas stumble into 2022 when it should have soared, to take full advantage of the post-pandemic travel surge.
The airline’s “apology package” offers a handful of perks, including a 12-month status extension for all frequent flyers at the Silver tier or above, a $50 e-voucher on flights, free lounge passes, “up to 50% more” points-based reward seats. and, for first tier Platinum and Platinum One members, “a gift of free Qantas Points”.
Executives line up to take ownership
In April, Joyce issued an apology for long and excessive call center wait times, which saw many people waiting for hours when trying to reach a member of Qantas staff to handle cancellations flights, make changes to a reservation or seek late refunds.
Joyce’s remarks followed a similar mea culpa from Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully, to whom she acknowledged that wait times were ‘not acceptable’. The airline has since reduced those wait times by employing hundreds of new employees.
In July, it was the turn of Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David, who said in a statement that the airline “completely fails to deliver the service our customers expect”.
This follows Qantas which recorded Australia’s worst domestic flight cancellation record in May, with 7.6% of its services – or one in 13 – axed.
“The truth is that the difficulties we are currently facing are due to the Covid and flu related illness, as well as an extremely tight labor market,” David explained, adding that the winter months would mean “ a few more bumps along the way”.
The national airline has become a national punching bag for passengers as widespread travel disruptions and airport ordeals test their affection for one of the country’s biggest brands, with Joyce landing in the crosshairs of the social media vitriol that escalates with each canceled itinerary and lost suitcase.
Customers have lambasted him for being overzealous in cutting more than 8,000 jobs, leaving Qantas so short of manpower that it cannot function properly.
The Flying Kangaroo becomes a punching bag
The backlash comes as the global aviation industry struggles to cope with a rebound in travel demand after laying off staff to weather the pandemic with simple operations.
As chaotic airport scenes in the US and Europe have become commonplace, emotions are running particularly high for Australians who feel let down by Qantas.
It’s a nasty reversal of fortune for a company that carefully navigated Covid-19 and emerged in better financial shape than almost any other airline in the world.
But while lauded just over a year ago for bringing Australia’s iconic airline through the pandemic stronger than ever, Joyce was knocked off his pedestal by its aftermath.
The challenges of resuming travel are overwhelming Qantas and threatening to tarnish the legacy of one of aviation’s oldest and most prominent leaders.
Joyce has won shareholder devotion by resuscitating Qantas twice in less than a decade through a series of ruthless job cuts and spending, and is perhaps the closest thing in Australia to a celebrity CEO.
None of this seems to matter to passengers who endured hours-long check-in queues, especially during peak holiday periods, or who slept rough at foreign airports after flight delays.
Additional reports from Bloomberg