Qantas commits an extra $80 million to ‘customer improvements’ – but warns of rising airfares

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Qantas, which has faced a number of blows to its reputation in the last month, says it’s looking to address customer pain points – but flight prices aren’t one of them.
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In a market update, the airline stated it would invest a further $80 million into customer improvements across FY24. That would be on top of the $150 million already budgeted, and would be funded from the Group’s $2.5 billion in profits.

Qantas said the cash would be used to address customer ‘pain points’, like better contact centre resourcing and training, an increase in the number of seats that could be redeemed with Frequent Flyer points and more generous recovery support when operational issues arise. Inflight catering will also get a revamp – and the company plans to invest in a “review of longstanding policies for fairness”. That last point comes as the airline lost a High Court case, where it was ruled Qantas illegally sacked 1,700 ground handling staff during the pandemic.

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Qantas also touched on rising global fuel prices. According to the airline, fuel prices have increased about 30% since May 2023, including a 10% hike in August alone, due to higher oil prices, higher refiner margins and a low Aussie dollar. It expects its fuel bill to increase by $200 million to $2.8 billion, and said it would try to balance the higher costs with airfares.

“The Group will continue to absorb these higher costs, but will monitor fuel prices in the weeks ahead and, if current levels are sustained, will look to adjust its settings,” the statement read. “Any changes would look to balance the recovery of higher costs with the importance of affordable travel in an environment where fares are already elevated.”

Qantas: What’s happened?

The update comes as the airline continues to manage the fall-out from the Qatar flight controversy, the airline’s COVID refunds, and the aforementioned High Court decision.

It also follows the airline’s announcement that about $14.4 million worth of former CEO Alan Joyce’s bonuses were subject to clawback “in recognition of the customer and brand impact of cumulative events”.

New CEO, Vanessa Hudson, sent an email to frequent flyer members shortly after apologising for “getting things wrong”.

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