Richard Goyder is chairman of Woodside and Qantas, both of the top 100 ASX companies, as well as the AFL committee, which keeps him extremely busy. Earlier this year, he spoke of the “incredible job” Joyce had done during the pandemic when many airlines worldwide filed for bankruptcy. Qantas received nearly $2 billion in government support through JobKeeper and other aviation-specific programs during that time.
In recent months, however, there appears to have been a mismatch between the board’s perception of the work Qantas senior management does and the feedback the airline receives from both staff and customers.
Complaints from politicians, businessmen and other customers about the airline’s services have become a deafening noise. Since the beginning of this year, criticisms of Qantas’ customer service have ranged from delayed and canceled flights — the airline’s punctuality levels have fallen — to the multiple call centers failing to answer calls, sometimes taking up to five to seven hours, or responding. on emails and messages.
There are also complaints about missing bags, including recently a woman whose bag was missing for four days: the bag contained her mother’s ashes. Her message to Qantas via the website went unanswered until her partner started using social media. When the bag was finally delivered, the thanks were not due to Qantas.
Joyce has since admitted the airline has been “rusty” since coming out of two years of hibernation after blaming customers for the airline’s problems earlier this year, saying they weren’t “match-fit”.
He continued on Wednesday, telling Perth Radio: “We are definitely not providing the service we would expect to do.”
In a market update on Friday, Qantas told shareholders it had reduced its net debt by $1.5 billion in the past six months to about $4 billion.
It then spoke about how it has deployed additional resources to address customer service issues and to cope with the school holiday period, which begins this weekend. In the same release, the company said it would reduce its domestic capacity by 15 percent between July and September, amid high fuel prices and staffing problems.
While the airline has quantified how much it has reduced net debt, it still hasn’t given a figure on how much it spent on hiring additional staff. Instead, it revealed it would give 19,000 employees a $5,000 bonus, but only if they accept new employment contracts, which offer a 2 percent annual pay increase, which is below current inflation rates.
In the past two years, Qantas has laid off 9,400 employees. Since 2010, the number of employees has decreased from 37,500 to 22,000.
In the market update, Joyce commented on Evans’ departure, wished him well and thanked him for his service. Joyce, however, did not immediately comment on the customer service issues.
Instead, the release generally said the Qantas group thanked customers for their patience and understanding as the airline goes through a challenging restart. Other transport companies and even the hospitality industry have had a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, but some argue they are meeting customer expectations better than Qantas.
The missing part in Friday’s market update was an apology to customers.
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