Warning: opinion ahead!
Qantas seems to have put itself into an irretrievable nose-dive.
Gone are the days that the flying kangaroo was lauded on international movie screens by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rainman. The whole world knew that Qantas was the only airline that had never crashed. Now it is making news for all the wrong reasons.
Yes, Qantas’s safety record remains unsurpassed….but then there haven’t been too many other major crashes in other major airlines recently either. And Qantas has had some scary near-misses which certainly made national news in Australia.
And I have to say I have noticed that choosing to fly Qantas in the last few years has meant joining the longest queue in the airport. Somehow both the other major airlines and the budget carriers manage to no only charge less, they also avoid the inconvenience of having to arrive earlier at the airport and queue for an hour to get your ticket checked and your baggage put on the plane. The smug feeling one used to get flying Qantas is not there when others zip through the check-in and into the bar a good 3/4 hour before you. Particularly if you are trying to keep three children entertained in the queue.
So if it isn’t for the safety record and it isn’t for the service – why am I paying more to fly Qantas? According to the CEO Alan Joyce it is because of pay rates for Australian staff.
But it has to be said (because everyone else has) that awarding the CEO a 71% payrise while in industrial dispute with your employees over pay, conditions ad job security….doesn’t smell like a good PR move. Surely he could have waited a little while until he got his pay bumped up to ~$5million pa? That is a headline pay rate at a time when the company has poor share prices, is in dispute with employees, inconveniencing passengers and making the news broadcasts every night – and not in a good way. Maybe he is right about the pay rates making the company uncompetitive – but then he needs to lead by example.
But the death knell according to tonight’s news is that instead of the unions stopping flights, Qantas itself has grounded flights, inconveniencing thousands of customers. People were actually unloaded from planes they had just boarded. Others are stuck sleeping in terminals, unsure when they can start their holiday (already booked) or return home. Qantas staff were not able to respond to customer complaints and the phone lines were jammed.
And then the news that there was apparently a Jetstar memo regarding the grounding dated a couple of days prior to the shareholder meeting warning that Qantas would be grounding all planes. So it would seem that Jetstar (and therefore Qantas) knew the planes would be grounded, although Qantas was not able to provide any warning to its passengers, unions, employees or the Government.
And it is this poor customer service and lack of respect for the flying customer, both normally and in times of crisis, that will sound the death knell for Qantas. Unless addressed promptly.
I’m glad I don’t own any Qantas shares.