Qantas has announced it will invest a further $80 million — on top of its budgeted $150 million — to further improve its customer service.
In a market update on Monday, the national carrier said the investment will address a number of “customer pain points” including “better” contact centre resourcing and training, an increase in the number seats that can be redeemed with Frequent Flyer points, more “generous recovery support” when operational issues arise and upgrades to in-flight catering.
The move will be funded off the back of the company’s record $2.47 billion profit, in addition to the $150 million previously budgeted.
It comes amid the airline’s ongoing controversies including copping massive backlash after it revealed its super-sized profit result while it slashed costs and struggled to offer adequate customer service.
Chief executive designate Vanessa Hudson took the reins earlier than anticipated after Qantas boss Alan Joyce resigned two months earlier than planned.
Since she began her tenure, Ms Hudson has issued two apologies – first to nearly 1700 workers Qantas illegally sacked during the pandemic, then to customers for the airline’s recent track record.
A class-action lawsuit over pandemic-era refunds, an ACCC investigation over selling fares on cancelled flights, the refusal to repay $2.5 billion in government subsidies and drama surrounding Alan Joyce’s senate hearing inquiry, all added to the airline’s woes.
In a video message released on Friday Ms Hudson said she understood customer’s frustration and apologised.
“I know that we have let you down in many ways and for that, I am sorry,” Ms Hudson said.
“We haven’t delivered the way we should have. And we’ve often been hard to deal with.”
Ms Hudson promised to rectify the airline’s problems and get back to being the national carrier that “all Australians can be proud of”.
“We understand we need to earn back your trust not with what we say, but with what we do and how we behave,” she said.
The apology comes three days after the airline announced its $80 million customer improvements move, where it also noted a $200 million increase in fuel costs flagged for the first half of 2024 financial year.
This means a rise in airfares is on the cards for Qantas customers if the cost of jet fuel remains high which has risen 10 per cent since the beginning of August.
Qantas said while it would “continue to absorb these higher costs”, it would maintain its fuel price monitoring in the months ahead and alter fares if required.
The fuel hike is expected to cost the airline $2.8 billion, up $200m, for the six months to December 31.
“This is driven by a combination of higher oil prices, higher refiner margins and a lower Australian dollar,” the market update to the ASX read.