Staff shortages are forcing Australia’s Qantas Airways to ask managers to work as baggage handlers

Australia’s Qantas Airways recently asked some of its executives and managers to volunteer to work as baggage handlers over the next three months to help Qantas alleviate severe staff shortages in its checked baggage department, the BBC reported on Monday after reviewing an official note from the company.

Qantas chief operating officer Colin Hughes shared a copy of the memo with the BBC on Monday. The memo said Qantas was looking for at least 100 volunteers to transport baggage at Australia’s two busiest international airports in Sydney and Melbourne over the next 90 days.

“The executives and managers were asked to work in baggage handling roles three or five days a week, in shifts of either four or six hours a day,” the BBC reported on August 8.

“The note further stated that applicants must be able to move suitcases weighing as much as 32kg [71 lbs] each,” relayed the British broadcaster.

“We have been clear that our operational performance has not met our customers’ expectations or the standards we expect of ourselves – and that we have made every effort to improve our performance,” a Qantas spokesperson told the BBC. Monday.

Qantas is one of several international airlines that have been adversely affected by a crisis with checked baggage in recent months. Many airlines reduced their staff during the height of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which caused movement restrictions around the world. However, global travel restrictions have eased in recent months, in response to lower Chinese coronavirus cases worldwide combined with a general consensus to live with the virus. The shift opened the door to increased international air travel this summer. Many airlines have struggled to accommodate the sudden spikes in travel volume during the summer, meaning checked baggage departments at most companies remain woefully understaffed.

“In Australia, the leading airline, Qantas, loses one in 10 bags at the regional hub in Sydney,” writes the UK. Guardian the newspaper observed on July 20. “It is suffering from a shortage of baggage handlers after it outsourced around 1,700 jobs during the pandemic in a decision that was later found to have been illegal.”

“Stranded baggage claims have increased by 30% compared to 2019, according to insurer Mapfre SA, and amid high rates of delayed arrivals, some airports are reportedly seeing a tenfold increase in the amount of baggage arriving on wrong flights,” Guardian noted at the time. “Elsewhere, some global baggage carriers claim to have seen demand almost triple month-on-month as travelers choose not to check their bags.”

“Last week, Delta Air Lines flew a plane filled with 1,000 pieces of stranded luggage — and zero passengers — from London’s Heathrow Airport to Detroit to expedite the movement of delayed bags, CNBC reported July 19.

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