Qantas has expressed confidence that it can avoid a second chaotic Easter holiday period in a row, with extra aircraft and employees awaiting on standby to avert disruptions.
Qantas and Jetstar expect more than 620,000 domestic and international passengers over the Easter long weekend, compared to 601,000 last year. The two peak days are anticipated to be Thursday, with more than 120,000 passengers expected on 1,200 services, and Monday, when holidaymakers will fly home.
The group has hired an extra 3,500 employees since Easter last year, including cabin crew, pilots, engineers, and airport customer service staff. Additionally, it is boosting its reserve staffing levels by 20 per cent to cover any impact from sick leave, with up to 20 aircraft – including an Airbus A330, A320s, a Boeing 737 and a number of regional planes – also on standby as an extra buffer.
“Qantas has been the most on-time major domestic airline for six months in a row, with almost eight out of 10 flights (78.3 per cent) departing on time during February, despite Air Traffic Control staffing shortages and weather disruptions. Qantas expects this to extend to a seventh month when official government data is released later this month,” the national carrier said in a statement.
“Qantas’ operational performance over Grand Prix weekend highlights the significant improvement on last year. Over the weekend there was a 25 percentage point improvement in flights departing on time, 40 per cent fewer flights were cancelled and the rate of misplaced bags was five times lower. Queues for security screening at Melbourne and Sydney airports averaged less than five minutes.”
Last year’s Easter break saw the all-time record for delays being broken as the industry buckled under the weight of airlines racing back to pre-COVID-19 passenger numbers but with far fewer staff. The issues continued for months, leading to airlines eventually cutting services to mitigate the issues.
This Easter will be the first since Qantas added 57 return services per week for Sydney–Melbourne–Brisbane. The increase raises Qantas’ capacity across the services by 11 points to 93 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The Flying Kangaroo is also adding seats on transcontinental services to and from Perth using the airline’s larger Airbus A330 fleet, while sister carrier Jetstar is boosting its domestic and international flying capacity over the next six months by 15 percentage points.