source: Sydney Morning Herald
By Darren Goodsir, Transport Writer
Qantas staff at one of Australia's top airports have a "couldn't care less" attitude that means many passengers wait longer for their baggage than they spend in the air.
In a candid assessment of "unacceptable" failures, the acting ramp services manager for Qantas at Melbourne airport, Paul Pearson, last week told staff that he hoped these passengers would not defect to Ansett.
Qantas has already strongly capitalised on its rival's troubles to grab 85 per cent of the total domestic market.
Despite the airline's recent axing of 400 staff to counter the global aviation downturn, Mr Pearson said there were not enough employees, belt-loaders or equipment to cope with the surge in passengers.
Some days were "chaos" and "a debacle" at the baggage collection ramps, and customers were regularly getting poor service.
Just days before Ansett is set to get new owners, and a restoration of in-flight service and a frequent flyer program, Mr Pearson said he feared the worst.
"Ansett Mark II will [soon] be vigorously competing for our business and the way we have been treating our customers lately, I am hopeful they won't see this revamped competitor as a better option than us," he said in the memo, dated January 23, and obtained by Channel 9.
"That will depend on how many of them have to wait an hour for their bags or how many of them sat on a plane for 20 minutes waiting to be pushed off.
"Our operation is currently experiencing unacceptable service delivery failures and I acknowledge that this probably isn't news to many of you.
"Our customers, on too many occasions, are waiting for their bags for up to an hour after their flight has arrived. Sometimes it takes longer to collect their baggage than it took to fly here."
Mr Pearson, who is in charge of baggage delivery and retrieval and aircraft "push-backs", indicated that rostering relied on overtime.
At weekends, if staff rejected offers to work extra hours, the system virtually collapsed.
"Last Sunday, for instance, Melbourne's accountable delayed departures reported 59.6 per cent of all accountable ramp delays for the entire network," Mr Pearson wrote.
"On this particular Sunday, approximately 20 of the required 30 shift extensions were knocked back and we were left in a terrible operational mess from which we did not recover.
"I acknowledge that with staff having worked their quota of overtime, working extensions aren't that attractive and that is why we had the chaos we had last week ...
"Pride in work performance in terms of on-time departures, baggage delivery to the arrivals belts and maximising freight uplift appears to have been put aside and has been replaced with a 'couldn't care less' attitude."
Last night, Qantas's executive general manager of sales and marketing, John Borghetti, conceded that the domestic network was having problems.
"Quite clearly, some of the areas identified in Melbourne have not been performing as we might have hoped," he said.
"But Qantas really has moved very quickly to accommodate the high domestic increase in passengers that we have had.
"With Ansett relaunching, and Virgin Blue expanding, it is absolutely paramount that Qantas keeps its service standards excellent right across the network."