Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas, attempted to take back scathing comments he made about his own customers, who suffered eight-hour phone wait times and snaking lines at Sydney airport on Friday after he suggested passengers were the source of large delays because they weren’t “match fit.”
After two years of travel restrictions and lockdowns, Joyce stated that customers had forgotten many of the fundamentals of flying, and that inexperience was to blame for many of the delays.
Passengers at Sydney Airport have uploaded photos and videos of huge, chaotic lines snaking around and out the doors of terminal buildings. As a result of the delays, several passengers have missed their flights, and additional disruption is likely over the weekend and over the Easter period.
Passengers forgot to remove their laptops and aerosols from their luggage when going through airport security, according to Joyce. Joyce’s criticism was echoed by Sydney Airport, which tweeted:
“We’re facing a perfect storm at the moment. Traffic numbers are picking up, travelers are inexperienced after two years of not traveling, and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.”
Qantas has responded to rising criticism about high call center wait times by blaming passengers as well, claiming that 60% of queries could have been resolved through the Qantas website.
Due to the complexity of COVID-related travel inquiries, Qantas reports call volumes have roughly doubled compared to before the epidemic, and typical call times have increased by around 50%.
Domestic terminal chaos for second day in a row #Sydneyairport pic.twitter.com/0eISskEzP9
— Bermuda girl (@Bermudalady) April 8, 2022
While Qantas acknowledges that phone wait times are “unacceptable,” a representative for the airline claimed it “will take some time for call wait times to normalize.”
The Transportation Workers Union (TWU) has thrown the responsibility squarely on Joyce’s shoulders, claiming that most of the chaos was caused by his decision to cut thousands of positions and outsource many more during the pandemic.
Heading to Sydney Airport? Bring plenty of snacks and water. The security clearance line literally took 2 hours to get through and it was only that my flight was about to depart that I got fast tracked through. Absolutely horrible! pic.twitter.com/zNMp99QyWs
— Your Dad (@jdjudge) April 8, 2022
“There is 2,000 Qantas ground crew sitting at home waiting to be reinstated, after being illegally sacked so Qantas could rehire them on cheaper pay and worse conditions,” slammed TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
“Qantas pocketed A$865 million in JobKeeper and at the same time illegally outsourced its entire ground operations. Now the airline doesn’t have enough customer service workers, baggage handlers or ground staff to respond to surging demand.”
At this point security is completely not functioning at #Sydneyairport. This the emergency line for flights boarding in the next 20 minutes. pic.twitter.com/OpOVHbqHXX
— Tristan Davey (@twistieman) April 8, 2022