Qantas claimed its operational performance has improved “towards pre-COVID levels”, and has released data to show that the worst of the travel chaos is over.
The figures, released Monday by the flag carrier, show that delays, cancellations and mishandled baggage fees have all fallen in the first two weeks of September.
But despite the improvements, the airline has sought the cooperation of the thousands of people expected to travel in the coming days and weeks as school holidays, long weekends and football finals drive demand.
Qantas said its performance would be tested as passenger numbers increased — and it had plenty of tips for anyone planning to travel.
“Customers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time for domestic flights and three hours earlier for international flights,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
“As baggage services normalize, customers are encouraged to check bags in, stay within their cabin baggage allowance and avoid boarding delays that can be caused by overhead baggage. Tetrisdespite the skill of our crew in this area.”
Qantas said 67 percent of its flights departed on time in August, up from just 52 percent in July.
So far, 71 percent of flights departed on time in September.
In August, 4 percent of flights were cancelled, compared to 7.5 percent of flights in June. The current 2 percent figure for flight cancellations in September is below the pre-COVID level.
“A reduction in the total number of domestic flights has resulted in increased availability of standby staff, reducing the impact of crew sick leave, the leading cause of canceled and delayed flights in July,” the spokesperson said.
Qantas performance data up to September 14, 2022:
An industry-wide report published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this month found that 4.7 million passengers traveled in July, the highest number since early 2020.
“The airline industry struggled to meet this demand due to staff shortages and ill staff. The airline industry reported the worst on-time performance, with half of flights arriving late, while 6.4 percent of flights were cancelled,” the report said.
According to Qantas, six per 1,000 passengers in total have been mistreated and five per 1,000 for domestic – comparable to pre-COVID levels.
The average number of checked bags per passenger has increased compared to pre-COVID. The airline said this reflected the “strong revival in leisure travel”.
Qantas has been criticized for its handling of travel demand after the lockdown, leading chairman Richard Goyder to publish an op-ed last Monday defending the airline.
In August, airline chief Alan Joyce apologized to customers and assured the public that the flag carrier was “working hard to do our best again”.
Rival Virgin Australia reported stronger numbers than Qantas. It had a 98 percent completion rate for household services in August.
So far in September, it has maintained that rate of 98 percent.
“Virgin Australia continues to see a strong rebound in the domestic leisure travel market and we have taken several steps to enable the most efficient operation possible in preparation for the upcoming peak periods,” said a Virgin Australia spokesperson.
“Our workforce has grown to over 7,000 and since the July school holidays, we have hired more than 500 people in key operational roles and made roster adjustments that will support the busy period.”
UKTN newspaper contacted Jetstar with a request for performance data.
Qantas’ budget arm has been plagued by recent high-profile flight cancellations and delays, including thousands of vacationers stranded in Bali and other Asian destinations after repeated aircraft problems.