All Hands On Deck

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Australia’s national carrier is asking its CEOs and other company leaders to help handle passengers’ baggage in an effort to alleviate the pain from a severe labor shortage caused by the pandemic that has afflicted airlines worldwide and led to travel chaos around the globe, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Qantas released a memo this week asking executives and managers to volunteer over the next three months for baggage duty. Their new responsibilities would include sorting and scanning bags, transferring them from belt loaders onto the aircraft and even driving baggage-loading vehicles.

The volunteers will be asked to commit to “at least 12 to 18 hours over three shifts per week.”

Qantas representatives explained that the decision comes over the airline’s failure to meet “customers’ expectations or the standards that we expect of ourselves.”

For months, airlines and airports around the world have struggled from the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic. The chaotic situation has led to tens of thousands of canceled flights and delays, a steep increase in lost luggage, and passenger caps on airports.

Observers said the issue stems from an industry-wide labor shortage caused by the airlines having underestimated the time it would take to scale up to meet travel demand after the pandemic shutdowns.

In 2020, Qantas laid off around 1,700 ground handlers and outsourced the work to cut costs. But Australia’s labor watchdog ruled that the change was illegal. Qantas is appealing the decision.

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