Qantas says it will funnel $80 million into reducing the most noticeable customer ‘pain points’ through to June 2024 as the airline looks to reset its trajectory under newly-minted CEO Vanessa Hudson.
This will come on top of a previously-allocated $150m, with the $80m booster being funded from the airline’s own profits.
According to Qantas, priorities for this traveller-centric top-up will include
- better contact centre resourcing and training
- an increase in the number seats that can be redeemed with frequent flyer points
- more generous recovery support when operational issues arise
- a review of longstanding policies for fairness, and
- improvements to the quality of inflight catering
Several of these steps were last week tipped by Executive Traveller and no doubt all of them will be welcomed by passengers.
As previously noted, the airline is now looking at reducing its reliance on offshore call centres and beefing up its Australian telephone support operation.
One example of the ‘focus on fairness’ is likely to see the $60 fee for changing a passenger’s name on a ticket wound back.
In a market update provided this morning, Qantas flagged a 30% increase in fuel prices since May 2023, “including a 10% spike since August... driven by a combination of higher oil prices, higher refiner margins and a lower Australian dollar.”
While this could add $200m to the Qantas Group’s fuel bill across the 2023-2024 financial year, pushing it up to $2.8 billion, the airline said it would seek to “continue to absorb these higher costs” rather than pass them on to the public as higher airfares.
However, a continued increase in fuel costs could cause the airline to revisit that plan, although “any changes would look to balance the recovery of higher costs with the importance of affordable travel in an environment where fares are already elevated.”
Hudson last week reached out to the public in a short video message saying “I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that, I'm sorry.”
“We want to get back to the national carrier that Australians can be proud of, that's known for going above and beyond. We understand we need to earn your trust back, not with what we say, but what we do and how we behave.”
“This is going to take time and I ask for your patience,” Hudson said, promising that “the work is already underway.”
In addition to “reviewing all of our customer policies to make sure they're fair,” Hudson pledged the airline would give its frontline teams “more flexibility to better help you when things don't go to plan.”
This is already seeing airport staff once again able to provide vouchers to passengers impacted by delayed flights.
Hudson has tasked her executive team with delivering quick wins which make a tangible difference to travellers and how they feel about the airline.
And there’s certainly no shortage of ideas: our own article on What’s next for Qantas in the post-Alan Joyce era? resulted in over one hundred constructive comments from Executive Traveller readers on how Hudson could help get Qantas back to its best.