Thousands of Qantas staff could be given a one-off $5000 bonus to share in the airline’s expected return to profit as the carrier faces customer criticism for disruptions and delays.

The announcement comes as airports brace for a period of bumper demand driven by a school holiday rush.

Passenger numbers are tipped to surge to pre-pandemic levels from Friday, the last day of the school term in Victoria and Queensland. Schools close a week later in NSW and Western Australia.

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Qantas said on Thursday it would “pull out all the stops” to ensure disruptions faced by travellers at Easter were not repeated during the holiday period.

The airline has tried to pin some of the blame on staff shortages at airports, with Qantas boss Alan Joyce reportedly writing to airport chiefs to raise the issue.

On Friday, Qantas said up to 19,000 employees would be offered a $5,000 boost as the national carrier shared “the benefits of its recovery”, flagging a return to profit in the next financial year.

The one-off payment would be made to employees once a new enterprise agreement was finalised, the company said in a statement.

The airline stood down thousands of staff during the pandemic and controversially outsourced ground crews in a move challenged in federal court.

In the statement, Qantas thanked customers for their “patience and understanding” while it worked through what it said had been a “challenging restart for the industry globally”.

“The group is working with industry partners to improve the travel experience during the upcoming school holiday peak,” it said.

‘While a tight labour market and COVID-related impacts persist, there will be a 15 per cent increase in ground handling staff compared with the Easter holidays and airports are increasing their security screening resources.”

Sydney Airport is forecasting more than two million passengers to pass through its doors between June 24 and July 17, with 1.5 million of them expected to take a domestic flight.

Melbourne Airport is expecting similar figures, with more than 2.1 million people predicted to pass through its terminals.

Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert warned passengers to prepare for queues amid widespread staffing problems.

“The root cause of these challenges is that every business at the airport is rebuilding its workforce and doing it in the tightest jobs market in nearly half a century,” he said.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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