Alan Joyce, the chief executive of Australian flag carrier Qantas, has been forced to admit that the airline’s performance over recent months has fallen a long way short of what passengers have come to expect.
In a public and contrite apology to Qantas passengers and frequent flyers, Joyce says the airline is working hard to fix a host of issues including the seeming inability of the carrier to get luggage to its final destination.
The 56-year-old Irish businessman has become the very public face of Qantas’ recent woes – so much so that the term to be ‘Joyced’ has emerged in Australia to refer to the disruption that passengers face when their flight is cancelled or luggage goes missing.
Disgruntled customers have taken out their frustrations by egging Joyce’s multi-million-dollar mansion in a plush Sydney suburb. Some analysts have questioned whether Joyce’s position at the helm of Qantas is starting to become untenable.
“Over the past few months, too many of you have had flights delayed, flights cancelled and bags misplaced. There are good reasons why, but when it comes to what you expect from Qantas, it’s not good enough,” Joyce said on Sunday.
“On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise and assure you that we’re working hard to get back to our best.”
After doing a shift as a baggage handler and pressing other senior managers to help out at the coal face, Joyce now says the airline is witnessing a “sustained improvement” in baggage handling and on-time performance.
Frustrated aviation unions whose members have seen their pay and conditions slashed during the pandemic or had their jobs outsourced to lower-paid contractors say Joyce is the cause of Qantas’ problems rather than the problem solver he is now presenting himself as.
Joyce, however, is hoping to woo frequent flyers with a slew of incentives including a $50 voucher that they can use on domestic and trans-Tasman flights. Higher-status frequent flyers will also have their status automatically extended, while more customers will be invited to use the airline’s airport lounges.
But while disruption is starting to ease, Joyce can’t promise Qantas’ recent problems are now behind it. The airline continues to blame COVID-19 sickness for recent staff shortages, as well as an ‘industry wide’ labour shortage.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.