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article imageOp-Ed: QANTAS' last warning — Get the act together, or die

By Paul Wallis     Oct 29, 2011 in Travel
Sydney - The Flying Kangaroo isn’t so much flying as running for its life from enraged passengers. Having grounded flights until further notice as a result of rolling stoppages from unions, the airline is now facing serious anger from its customers.
Many passengers have vowed never to fly QANTAS again. The chaos is horrific, as reported by ABC Australia:
British Airways flights between the UK and Australia are not expected to be disrupted, but passengers booked on code share flights, such as BA services operated by Qantas, will be affected.
Qantas' other Europe hub, Frankfurt, is also affected. Mark Thomson was set to return to Brisbane from Berlin, and told ABC News Online the shutdown means he will fly with other airlines in future.
Much the same range of situations is affecting other QANTAS routes in North America and Asia. It's a sick situation.
QANTAS is the Australian national airline. It gets a lot of brand loyalty, and until recently it fully deserved it. QANTAS had the best safety record in the world, very high standards of inflight performance and services, and people were quite happy to travel on their own distinctive Aussie icon.
Rather unfortunately, the Aussie aspect, which was a major selling point among Australians not very keen on Euro and US cattle trucks in the sky, has been disappearing from the QANTAS culture.
For instance:
1. Outsourcing maintenance to cheaper Asian workshops — Safety problems appear to have started at roughly the same time, including some dramatic engine loss incidents and other non-endearing events.
2. Talking about a proposal to start up a cheaper QANTAS offshoot in Asia- Not thrilling to Aussie customers.
3. Refusal to negotiate new pay deals with staff — This includes pilots, engineering, baggage handlers, you name it.
QANTAS says it can’t compete with foreign airlines like Singapore Airlines and Emirates. This doesn’t get a lot of sympathy from Australians, particularly since the CEO Alan Joyce has just given himself a $2 million a year (71%) pay rise in the face of all these problems. It's also not acceptable to continue blaming costs for uncompetitive performance. Labor costs be damned, put in better technology and use better job design for more productivity.
The real danger for QANTAS isn’t on the spreadsheets. It’s in the ability of people to book with any airline on Earth.
QANTAS passengers don’t like being stranded, they don’t like business excuses for failure to provide services for which they’ve paid, and they don’t have to book with QANTAS anyway.
Mr Joyce is English, and appears to be using the same management techniques which have made BA and other airlines hated around the world by their customers and staff. He may also not appreciate the purely Australian perspective. He’s about to find out what a consumer revolt can do. QANTAS wouldn't be the first Australian airline to crash and burn. There were originally 3 Australian major airlines. QANTAS looks like it wants to go the same way as its former competitors. Australians don’t like their national icons to look stupid, let alone be stupid, and this grounding is stupid.
For example:
There may well be class actions from business travellers as a result of the grounding of all QANTAS flights for damages related to business costs.
Enough is enough — The airline’s job is to get people moving. If it can’t do that job, it’s not worth bothering about.
The airline is seen as having brought this on itself after a raft or price hikes, cost cutting and other “clever” executive moves which are generally despised by consumers around the world.
The airline is being uncompetitive in the worst possible sense of the word. Other airlines are cheaper, and their services in at least some cases are excellent. Why pay more to get less?
People don’t mind paying for service — They do mind about paying for what appear to be no more than typical executive tantrums.
Here’s an old Australian expression, QANTAS- Grow up.
Or go out of business, like Ansett and TAA before you. Take your pick. We don’t have to put up with this, and there's a lot we can do about it. Get your fingers out and get on with it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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