Dec 6, 2013

Qantas’ playing field isn’t level — it has poor managers running it

Qantas should have a much stronger balance sheet than it has, writes Crikey's aviation expert writes. So why is the airline in crisis? Most of the cuts are self-inflicted.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Insiders in the Qantas bunker are suggesting that group CEO Alan Joyce decided to go “over the top” into a hail of bullets on impulse last Tuesday week, ignoring what might be seen to have been wiser counsel.


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36 thoughts on “Qantas’ playing field isn’t level — it has poor managers running it

  1. Suzanne Blake

    Qantas for the last two decades needed to take a leaf out of the service levels of a few Asian airlines. They were unable to change staff service levels, and this has killed them.

    The staff hide in the galleys, except when serving meals, especially on International flights.

    They are in there chatting, reading papers and serving customers who walk up and ask for a drink.

    There are few exceptions.

    So do you blame management, staff or both. I say the latter

  2. rumtytum

    The biggest mistake Qantas management has made is to treat customers as a static, uncomplaining factor in the business plan, while paying fawning attention to executives and shareholders. Under this mindset it’s assumed that business won’t be affected by long delays in telephone responses, the long delays at check-in counters and grumpy, overtired cabin crew, all a result of reducing staff numbers. It’s assumed, too, that customers won’t mind the gouging on credit card fees and the handing over to passengers of tasks previously the responsibility of staff. In short, customers have for years been treated like cattle whose views of the airline need not be taken into account. I’m one of the once-loyal cattle who’ve finally switched allegiance to airlines that at least pretend to care about me. Fuck Qantas.

  3. Gary Gaunt

    To be fair and its hard to be fair to Joyce, he was handed a poisoned chalice by Strong/Dixon et al who had already cut the guts out of and sold the furniture of a once well run airline.
    The last straw were the across the board “profit based” executive bonuses, which produced results like Bangkok QF1, screwing staff and pilots and engineers, outsourcing work that has to be redone and so it goes.

    Don’t know where they are going to find the 1,000 people to add to the many thousand others they have already chopped.

    Of course the Board supports Joyce, also a reason to change both and the several layers of management underneath.

    When a surgeon is removing a cancer he takes as wide a margin as he can without actually killing the patient to make sure he gets it all.

  4. zut alors

    Agree 100% with the last two sentences of Gary Gaunt’s.

    I haven’t heard one logical argument for keeping any of them. Come back, John Borghetti, all is forgiven.

  5. Rais

    Don’t know what you’ve got against Joyce Ben. He did a good job at Ansett didn’t he?


    There was a time when Qantas staff would have given their life for the airline, but now if Qantas was on fire a huge number of the very same people would go into debt to buy fuel to help it burn. How did it come to this? Qantas has transformed from being a company servicing individuals into a company that takes money from transporting a body (customer/passenger) attached to money (your e-ticket). The rot started with James Strong, and has not stopped. A flight on Qantas can be equal to the best in the world, but Qantas is just as good at being the worst. Qantas has never been as Qantastic (a term from Qantas Marketing some years ago) as it thinks it is simply because the service levels vary too much. I’m not sure John Borghetti would have been the best solution, but he would not be in combat with both his staff and his customers. S&P have today downgraded Qantas to Junk Bond status. Qantas will, sadly, go off with Pan Am – which was also badly managed at the end. It will be interesting to know if Mr Joyce still get his performance bonus?

  7. rhonaj

    Only some geriatrics have a fondness for QANTAS

  8. Grant Carroll

    Dear Ben,

    You write great articles, I like Crikey and you do offer constructive, interesting criticism however, I must say, you seem completely bogged down with the Qantas lock out thing, Ben this happened approx. two years ago, right or wrong, surely it’s time to move on ?

    Ben, everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but aren’t you the Crikey moderator , do you really think “money is missing” ( as you put it) if you do, then why don’t you just call the police and get the whole board locked up !
    Do you know of any Australian management teams that have not made any business mistakes? If you do, kindly let me know as I will follow the company with a view to investing in them.

    It would be crazy to remove (sack or other ) the CEO and board at the moment.
    Let’s be sensible, give the so called “amazing management team” a little more time and a small amount of credit, at least they know how much they are losing!

    Mr Joyce did say all options are on the table, so maybe a “business options” re- alignment has taken place and he means everything is for sale at the right price!

    Qantas’s current financial/business woes, are not unique to Qantas , in the business world, small business’ operators experience similar ( smaller) financial struggles and problems every day.
    Events over the last few days could be a positive sign and a turning point for the Qantas team, who knows what the future holds.

    It will be interesting to see how Qantas management responds, with cash reserves dwindling, ti’s the time to see if Mr Joyce, the board and executives really do “thrive on competition” (as they put it), or is it all just talk?

  9. macca

    Suzzane Blake:
    I fly Qantas international lots, in cattle class & this is not my experience (in fact, quite to the contrary).

  10. Suzanne Blake

    Hi Macca

    So you I, and I have NEVER seen anything different, same in Business, as well when I get upgraded!!

    Why travel Qantas when you can fly for a LOT less with better service? no brainer

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