The new First Class cabin on Qantas A350-1000s. Video / Provided
Air New Zealand bosses and office staff helped clean planes and check in passengers.
Qantas, also hit by severe staff shortages, has asked company executives to work as baggage handlers after getting into trouble during the pandemic.
The airline wants bosses to join a new emergency program working as managers up to five days a week for three months.
The Australian newspaper said Qantas bosses previously worked at airports during peak hours, but the new scheme showed how severe labor shortages now were.
The newspaper said the airline’s chief operating officer wanted at least 100 volunteers to work at Sydney and Melbourne airports.
Jobs would include loading and unloading bags as well as driving vehicles to move luggage around airports.
Late last month, Qantas’ domestic and international managing director Andrew David admitted the airline was struggling in some areas.
“A lot of things have been said about Qantas over the past few months. Some of them are right because we absolutely do not provide the service our customers expect, but some of them are not true. what’s happening in the industry here and around the world.”
He added: “Some have pointed to Qantas’ decision to outsource ground handling as one of the main reasons why the restart was difficult. That’s not true.”
David said Qantas had completed its ground handling changes before Easter 2021, when domestic travel was back to almost 100%.
He added: “The pandemic has been very hard on aviation. Economically, most airlines were on their knees. At the start of the pandemic, we were 11 weeks from bankruptcy and have since recorded 6 billion dollars in losses and over $24 billion in lost revenue.”
This year, the labor market has been tight in Australia and New Zealand, with low unemployment in many sectors.
A Qantas spokesperson told The Australian: “We have made it clear that our operational performance did not meet our customers’ expectations or the standards we expect of ourselves.”
Air New Zealand Group Airports Chief Executive Chloe Surridge said to help ease some of the pressure on her frontline teams she had appealed for volunteers to help out at busy airports as the sickness struck during the winter.
“This opportunity, which we also offered during the busy summer holidays, allows people across the company to help their colleagues and experience another part of the airline.”
Typically, volunteers will work a few hours in the early morning or evening during peak hours to assist customers with check-in kiosks, bag drop, and directing people around the airport.
Volunteers come from all over the company, including senior managers and office teams. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are the busiest ports over this winter period and the airline reports “great interest” in helping.
“We always get overwhelming support from our employees for these opportunities and in the past we have had to turn people away. The Air New Zealand team always want to step in and help make sure our customers get where they have to be,” Surridge says.