Business Insane World

Australian airline Qantas asks senior executives to work as baggage handlers amid acute labour shortage

Australian airline Qantas has asked senior executives to work as baggage handlers for three months as it tries to tackle an acute labour shortage.

The firm’s head of operations is looking for at least 100 volunteers to work at Sydney and Melbourne airports.

Tasks include loading and unloading bags as well as driving vehicles to move luggage around airports.

Like much of the global airline industry, Qantas is struggling to resume its services as borders reopen.

“The high levels of winter flu and a Covid spike across the community, coupled with the ongoing tight labour market, make resourcing a challenge across our industry,” Qantas’ chief operating officer Colin Hughes said.

“There is no expectation that you will opt into this role on top of your full-time position,” Mr Hughes added.

The managers and executives were asked to work in the baggage handling roles for three or five days a week, in shifts of either four or six hours a day.

The note went on to say that applicants need to be able to move suitcases weighing as much as 32kg each.

Qantas was among airlines hit hard by the pandemic as countries closed their borders, grounding planes.

The industry laid off thousands of staff during the pandemic, many of which were ground staff.

In November 2020, Qantas outsourced more than 2,000 ground staff roles, on top of thousands more job cuts it had already announced, in an effort to limit its financial losses.

Last month, the airline apologised after passengers complained of delays and missing luggage.

Australia had among the strictest Covid travel restrictions in the world, including for its own citizens, and only began lifting the controls in November 2021.

As measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 have eased around the world, Qantas and other major airlines have struggled to resume services at the scale seen before the pandemic.