All three domestics have invested enormously in new fleet — without exception, the equipment is straight from the showroom floor. That is important in this market — the passengers will line up and handle cut backs in cabin service but have voted with their bums when presented with less than very new aircraft. The marketing gurus will tell you that’s a Qantas standard that has been well entrenched and now part of the traveler’s mindset.
The media in Australia just love the long delay or the flight from hell story which makes for exceptional passenger service efforts to avoid any hint of a problem, and everyone at the gate know and care about avoiding bad press. In this day and age, when just about every passenger can call a local talkback radio jock, or capture a few minutes on their broadcast-quality camcorder, the justification PR release from the carrier a day later is irrelevant — the news has spread. These days what happens in and around the gate when there is a problem or a delay is probably being recorded on a cell phone camera or a camcorder — probably edited and put out there with a degree of misinformation to the whole world. A sobering reality that has to be noted by everyone in the business. I digress.
A Need for skill
New international services and a lift in domestic travel have all the passenger growth figures up between 5 and 10 percent at the major airports such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth. Sydney is by far the busiest of Australia’s airports and the owners, Macquarie Airports grew traffic by 6.4 percent to touch the 32-million passenger mark. Across the board, expansion of terminal space, additional gates and associated ground works are being planned. Again Sydney is a good example — $A500 million announced for a new international terminal facility.
Keeping all this growth serviced is a challenge. Australia has a highly trained and regarded workforce in the aviation industry. Always in demand by carriers in Asia and Middle East, flight crew and maintenance engineers are employed around the world.
That can leave a hole in the Australian market and new incentives have been put in place to lift the whole skills training scene particularly for technical college graduates.
Qantas has for decades been the leader in training and stamping the company’s standards of excellence on their engineering staff — that grounding has been transferred across to just about every other corner of the industry in Australia.
Just about every company has a few Qantas-trained people leading their engineering.
Rumors of taking some heavy maintenance off-shore have been circulating for a few years, however the reality is that in practice this is not attractive as most Australian airlines need to impose their own high standards and the PR fallout would probably far outweigh the cost savings.
As a part of the rationalization, moves have been made to supply high quality services on an outsourced basis while still keeping to the script.
One of Australia’s biggest and best run corporations John Holland, a multi-discipline construction and engineering business, have bought into the aviation sector. Having won some major airport expansion contracts, the smell of all that jet fuel got into the boardroom and they took over a substantial maintenance facility at Melbourne Airport. This was the last vestige of the Ansett empire, which kept trading at a profit for six years while the rest of that business went belly up and was sold off.
John Holland Aviation, as it is now known, incorporated a wealth of skilled people and looked like it was in the right place at the right time. In just six months, the business has doubled the number of staff and gained approvals from Australian, European, Singapore and Defence Force authorities. They are planning an A380-dedicated facility in Melbourne and are pitching for the Qantas A380 work as well as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, all who will need an Australian service base.
John Holland Aviation has also initiated full ground handling services at several major airports and is looking to expand.
Alongside those developments, Perth-based company Skycare have won contracts to handle Jetstar at most domestic destinations and are positioned to challenge as another big player at the gate. Qantas domestic and international have closely guarded their turf as the major player, handling their increasingly large operation while some of their longest-standing handling contracts with international competitors have been lost.
A human factors case study: Qantas’ nitrogen cart
Qantas Airways said Thursday it had accepted an 11.1 billion Australian dollar ($8.64 billion) takeover offer from a private equity consortium including Australia's Macquarie Bank and the Texas...