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Qantas Shame

Old 17th Aug 2009, 00:44
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Qantas Shame

As reported by Liam Bartlett in the Perth Sunday Times 16 August 2009.........

NEXT time you thrust your boarding pass into the hands of a bedraggled Qantas flight attendant, take a second to smile and say: "It's not your fault".

In fact, if they're not already at the sanitarium and still happy to wrestle with overhead lockers and bad management, then they deserve a medal. Not that too many will need to be minted, if their boss is successful.
The brains trust at Qantas has asked the national flying watchdog, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, to give it the green light to cut cabin crew numbers on all its flights.

Instead of employing one attendant for every 36 passengers, Qantas reckons one for every 50 would be more than enough. That means every worker in an Aboriginal motif would have to look after almost 50 per cent more passengers than they do now, and we're not just talking about the tea and coffee service.

How about managing in-flight problems, security threats, plain old bad manners or, heaven forbid, directing people to emergency exits?

If you're unsure whether this move is a human-resources numbers game or a real safety issue, it may help to learn that all US airlines employ this magical "one-in-50" ratio. Anyone who has ever flown on an American flight and hungered for a second packet of peanuts would know that in a heartbeat, but why would Qantas want to follow in their highly dubious footsteps and risk its far- superior record?

The short answer is money.

Chief executive officer Alan Joyce will do anything to protect the bottom line and in an economy in which all airlines are struggling to put bums on seats, there are really only two choices.

The first is aircraft. Joyce has saved $3.76 billion by cancelling an order for 15 Boeing Dreamliners, as well as delaying delivery of another 15 and deferring four A380 "superjumbos". That's the easy part. The second and last choice is the people who make the ride worthwhile, and they are being treated abysmally. Already, Qantas has gained exemptions from CASA for its most popular domestic routes, being allowed to cut its crew on the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 from five to just four. Only just enough to get by and it certainly shows.

On a recent flight to Perth from Sydney, I noticed one of the two forward toilets was out of order. Flying back to Sydney the next day, it was still broken. The same plane had gone across the Nullarbor twice in the interim and the loo remained kaput. I suppose no maintenance means no cost, but try being a crew member and apologising four times on four flights for the same problem.

That's marginally better, though, than the flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne last month on which passengers copped a surprise dunking from the overhead bins when the water stored for the toilets sprang a leak. Try explaining that away as the reason your Neil Perry cookie is soggy.

WA flyers also have the dubious honour of putting up with the worst "major" airport in the country, where getting a seat in the Qantas lounge often proves more difficult than booking a discount fare in the school holidays.

And that's one thing a lot of flying has taught me it can always get worse. Like the flight from Sydney to New York earlier this year that was cancelled in Los Angeles for no apparent reason. By that, I mean Qantas never gave any of the 220-odd people a reason for letting them sit on the tarmac for three hours at LAX after a 14-hour flight, and then disgorging them into the never-never, where they scrambled to make their own plans for a connecting flight. Most of the rejected customers took all day to get there, but did Qantas really give a hoot? Less than a handful of ground staff were thrown to the wolves to make the apologies.

Where is Joyce and his loyal lieutenants when the excuses have to be made to the tired and distraught flyer?

I seriously doubt if Joyce actually flies on his own airline. If he does, I'm willing to bet the first perk he uses is the executive velvet eyeshades.

That way he wouldn't have to watch his workers scurrying around patching things up, trying to put a friendly face on decaying resources. Like the 747 crew on a recent flight from Sydney to London who departed with one stove in all four galleys in a state of disrepair. That may seem cosmetic to some, but what does it say about the cost-cutting that might be going on under the plane?

Just over a week ago, the Qantas engine workshops received their expression of interest for redundancy. Of 360 jobs, only 142 are set to remain in a Band-Aid engine service role. Does this make a lot of sense? The accounts department would say yes.

It's probably the same department that ran the debacle at Perth airport in July when many passengers were delayed for more than eight hours for an overnight flight to Sydney without one peep of communication from Qantas ground staff.

In that instance, management was able to spin the problem by using a lightning strike to justify the appalling behaviour but the real issue was cost.

It's the same motivation that has led them to disregard an obvious safety principle and begin to sell exit rows as separate seats, at a premium price. The same thinking allows them to continue the public charade that pretends Jetstar is an entirely separate business competitor to Qantas.

For the past two weeks, this low-rent, discount offshoot has been running full-page ads in the national press and I can't help but think how many free plastic cups of water its customers might enjoy on the next cattle run if only it stopped its wasteful self-aggrandisement.

Meanwhile, Joyce and his predecessor Geoff Dixon the corporate Harry Houdini who was somehow allowed to keep his job despite trying to arrange a private- equity takeover at huge personal gain have managed to foster two tiers of cabin crew that can only end in tears.

We now have the more experienced flight attendants, known as Qantas Air Lines crew, being paid about 30 per cent more than their younger counterparts, the Qantas Cabin Crew Australia.

Bizarrely, the QCCA not only get paid less than their QAL colleagues for exactly the same work, but they can also be ordered to turn up for 50 hours more in any eight-week block. The same duties on the same planes for so much less. And, incredibly, the less experienced are being sent out on the most advanced aircraft, the A380, because yes, you guessed it it costs so much less to service more passengers.

And you thought that aroma coming from the galley was just the smell of their ubiquitous omelets being reheated.

It turns out its just the stink of CEO Joyce putting profits before jobs, safety standards and customer service the hallmarks of what used to make the Flying Kangaroo such an envied and successful airline.
*****************
Thank you Liam Bartlett
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 00:47
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Someone is FINALLY seeing what has been going on for years !!!!!!!!
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 00:59
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A Very Brave Journo

I will be surprised if this guy still has a job in a week.
Honesty and good investigative journalism can be costly.
He managed to just about cover everything that is wrong with Qantas.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 01:04
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Qantas To Be Renamed

Stalag Airlines
The Flying Circus(Run by Clowns)
Air Greyhound(gone to the dogs)
Take your pick
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 01:12
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The answer to this will be twofold...

First,they will ignore it...

Second,they will be placing calls to their favoured journo's for a more complimentary article......
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 01:15
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What an excellent summation of the Qantas experience. Bravo Liam Bartlett.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 01:17
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Reduce The Crew Complement By One and.....

Service standards will decline even further...if thats possible
The surplus of CC that the company now has will increase.
Now is a perfect opportunity to improve service on Qantas by increasing the crew complement and thereby absorbing the surplus that are currently sitting around on paid leave or reserve.
When the cycle begins to trend upwards dont expect the crew member to be replaced.
If you think staff are disengaged now then you aint seen nuthin
American style airline service here we come.
Lesley Grant Head of Cabin Services is convinced that Qantas offers the Best service in the sky.
She is either medicated or should be.
Liam Bartlett.....outstanding
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 03:01
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Ho hum.

Qantas is a business that is trying to reduce its costs. Any business, airline or otherwise, would show similar signs during enforced cost cutting.

All just very standard business. This story says nothing about Qantas but everything about run-of-the-mill business.

Liam Bartlett has been around for a long time. He knows that Qantas is a business and that businesses have no choice but to do these things from time to time.

But his job is to write articles like these. His income depends on his ability to package up a story that will be swallowed by the masses.

Chief executive officer Alan Joyce will do anything to protect the bottom line ...
Of course - that is the whole point. If Liam was a shareholder of Qantas he would insist on nothing less. (Liam may well be a shareholder - his article was all about selling newspapers and not necessarily what he personally believes Qantas should, or should not, be doing).
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 03:59
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Cost Cutting From Time 2 Time-Rubbish

Qantas doesnt do this from time to time.Its been doing it for ten years.
If you are serious about cutting costs reduce management bonuses.
The share price has been as low as $1.79.Destruction of shareholder value.
Please dont carp on about the WFC ...Qantas was going south long before that started.
Pax feedback suggests that the Qantas product is crap.Joyce is just mini me Dixon with an Irish lilt
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 04:40
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FGD135...
Did you actually read the article?

Notice anything about the safety component of reducing the number of cabin crew?

or anything else in a service industry that is still reeling after years of slash and burn management....

This is not a business making paper rolls or nuts and bolts.This is a business about moving people from A to B where safety is the key word and image is everything.....if you want to cut costs then how about slashing the number of middle and upper management as well as corporate bonuses....

You mentioned Ho Hum....however,it should have been Bah Humbug....
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 05:06
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Seriously - how come every other country seems to be fine with a 1/50 ratio of CC to Pax, as is Virgin Blue and Jetstar, yet its an issue for QF? Has there been anything proven about a reduction in safety levels from a completely objective point of view? I don't believe so...but then again this is PPRuNe, so why let that get in the way of a good whinge.

So the real problem is again Qantas being a nice big red-tailed target for the newspapers. Stuff happens, aircraft go tech, somebody on the front lines makes the wrong call and inconveniences people - this stuff happens everywhere, but when it comes to QF, it's worth a journalist's opinion piece in the Sunday Slimes. Either that or the rest of the world must be right with Mr Bartlett.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 06:15
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More Rubbish

Qantas Airbus A380 ...489 pax 22 crew
Sing Air 17 crew on a jumbo
Japanese Airline(JAL) 18 on a jumbo
Every other airline?
Every other American Airline.
Airlines require a minimum spend to maintain standards of service.
Qantas has been below that minimum spend for about 6 years and its shows.
The product is rubbish
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 06:54
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Already, Qantas has gained exemptions from CASA for its most popular domestic routes, being allowed to cut its crew on the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 from five to just four.
At least that's one for each main door. Asian low costs operate A319s with three cabin crew, and I believe New Zealand allows three cabin crew on some 737s ?

Difficult decision which way to go:
Run a first rate airline charging high fares and delivering first rate service IF your market will support it.

OR

Join the low costs in the lower end of the market, reducing your costs and standard of product to compete.

It's all very well having a low pax/crew ratio, good meals and satisfied customers. But you won't be around long if you're flying half empty losing money because most of your potential passengers were put off by the price and decided to pack a cut lunch and go on Tiger instead.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 07:03
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how come every other country seems to be fine with a 1/50 ratio of CC to Pax, as is Virgin Blue and Jetstar
...Errr No ....I think you'll find that it is only aircraft registered in NZ....and then only LCC's...

QF is not a LCC and competes against other legacy airlines with more cabin crew....so feel free to remove foot from mouth.

There will always be a market for a legacy airline especially on Overseas long haul flights as against a short hop across the pond or the dutch as our Kiwi friends call it.
decided to pack a cut lunch and go on Tiger instead.
Has SIA announced plans to become a LCC...No they have Tiger amongst others just as QF have J*.This does not mean those who want to spend money will fly an airborne bus...

Next argument please against this accurate summation of the way the airline is being run....
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 07:51
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That's not journalism; it's look at me, I have an opinion and I don't care who I upset.

Internally, the piece is illogical and unbalanced - minimum numbers versus service standard numbers for instance.

If you read that rubbish about an industry in with which you are not engaged, you wouldn't get to the end of the first paragraph.

Who is this guy, I have a grandson called Liam and this character has blotted the escutcheon.

Rant over. feel better
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 08:10
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JQ and DJ have CASA exemptions allowing them to operate on a 1/50 seat ratio. US, NZ and EU allow the same ratios. Tell me where the other full-service carrers domestically that operate with the same crewing complement as QF did? Bear in mind, the exemptions for all players are also only for domestic services. My foot is far from my mouth, thankyou very much.

Bear in mind that QF competes with one LCC (Tiger) and a 'new world carrier' (which has lower costs than it anyway) on domestic services. No matter how premium a product may be, if it cannot be delivered in a way to earn a yield premium you end up in a bad spot. I think in time, this will be less and less with a number of passengers currently downgrading either to economy or LCCs and living through the experience (some even enjoy it), so I wonder if long term there will be a shift in customer demand towards chasing the lowest fare. Only time will tell
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 09:32
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the piece is illogical and unbalanced
Funny Wod.....that's what I thought about your post.
Tell me where the other full-service carrers domestically that operate with the same crewing complement as QF did?
ebt...That's the heart of the problem and shows your mindset...Qantas is a lot more than a domestic airline.
The money earner really is in the golden triangle with the business market and they will always be prepared to pay top dollar so long as they are recognised in the business lounge,on board and with on time departures...they don't want to fly on a airborne version of a bus.
The brains trust at Qantas has asked the national flying watchdog, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, to give it the green light to cut cabin crew numbers on all its flights.
Mind you I don't condone the reduction on domestic flights either...but those who have never worked as cabin crew will probably never understand the real issue in any case...
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 09:42
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A beat-up?

This is a beat-up on an obviously slow news day fed to a journo by I suspect the FAAA. This hypothesis may be incorrect but the article is trying to advance one side of a industrial difference of opinion.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 09:55
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The brains trust at Qantas has asked the national flying watchdog, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, to give it the green light to cut cabin crew numbers on all its flights.
Another point of view more than a little short on detail...

Ken disagree's but doesn't tell us why...only that he doesn't like it....
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 09:55
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packrat wrote:
Cost Cutting From Time 2 Time-Rubbish
Qantas doesnt do this from time to time.Its been doing it for ten years.
If you are serious about cutting costs reduce management bonuses.


Or how about management actually making some hard decisions and earn those huge bonus', decisions like cutting the deadwood in Qantas?
Get staffing levels / airframe in line with worlds best practice.
That would be a good way to narrow the gap with competitors!
PS I believe the areas of overstaffing are not in the front line departments. If you ask me there are too many blunts and middle management types running around in back rooms trying to look busy. How often do you see over weekends and public holidays no backroom office staff or management types, yet the airline continues to function?
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