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Qantas Airways Ltd., which has faced severe criticism from passengers over disruptions, is anticipating further challenges in the coming weeks as it navigates staff sickness and a tight labor market. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Qantas Airways Ltd., which has faced severe criticism from passengers over disruptions, is anticipating further challenges in the coming weeks as it navigates staff sickness and a tight labor market. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Qantas Airways is expecting more challenges in the coming weeks as it navigates staff sickness and a tight labour market.

Passengers angered by delays and cancellations have lashed out at the airline and CEO Alan Joyce, particularly for a decision to shed thousands of jobs. The carrier had Australia’s worst domestic flight-cancellation record in May, scrapping 7.6% of its services, or one in 13. 

“The truth is that the difficulties we are facing now are because of Covid-19 and flu-related sickness, as well as an extremely tight labour market,” Qantas domestic and international CEO, Andrew David, said on Sunday in a statement posted on the company’s website.

With Australia forecast to experience rising coronavirus cases in the coming weeks “there will be a few more bumps along the way”, said David. The company is “absolutely not delivering the service that our customers expect”. 

Operational failings are putting unexpected pressure on Joyce, who became Qantas CEO in 2008 and is one of aviation’s longest-serving leaders. At the height of the Covid-19 crisis in June 2020, with Australia essentially off limits to international travel, Joyce agreed to remain in his position for at least another three years to oversee a recovery.

Air-travel demand may exceed the industry’s capacity for a year or two more, Joyce said last month. 

Qantas has recruited more than 1,000 people, put more staff on standby and consolidated flights to larger aircraft under measures aimed at minimising disruptions, David said in the statement.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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