Australian flag carrier Qantas has become the latest international airline trying to convince flight attendants who were made redundant or encouraged to quit at the height of the pandemic to rejoin as the carrier struggles to keep up with demand.
Many of those who were made redundant have successfully moved on to other careers after Australia experienced some of the longest pandemic travel restrictions in the world, but Qantas is hoping it can convince experienced flyers to return to the skies.
The call to rejoin the airline was made in a new email that was sent en masse to ex-cabin crew who were forced to leave Qantas in 2020. Nearly three years later, the airline is hoping it can quickly plug a shortfall in cabin staff with experienced former crew who will only need abbreviated training and can ‘hit the ground running’.
Qantas is embarking on one of the biggest recruitment drives in its history but with so many new crew, the airline is suffering from a dearth of experience – especially in premium cabins and leadership roles.
Like many other international airlines, Qantas is hoping to attract former staffers who can walk into the job with minimal on-the-job training. This will be especially important for maintaining experience levels in international Business and First Class.
“The pandemic was extremely challenging for Qantas and the broader aviation industry,” the leaked email begins. “With the change, we’ve made across the airline and the incredible rebound in travel over the last 12 months, the business is back in profit and growing again.”
“With our network growing and one new aircraft joining the group every three weeks on average over the next several years, there are new opportunities for our customers and people,” the email continues.
“As an experienced former cabin crew member, we are reaching out to you to see if you’re interested in being part of Qantas’ next chapter,” the email continues.
This tactic isn’t new. A number of airlines around the world have been keen to recruit back former crew members. Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are all known to have reached out to crew members made redundant during the pandemic.
Crew members are often recruited back on new, less generous terms and conditions.
Despite this, however, airlines have been inundated with job applications from former crew members who changed career paths before deciding that they weren’t ready to hang up their wings for good.
Qantas is initially offering former staffers the option to join on a 12-month contract or permanently. Former senior and premium-trained international crew members will return as Business Flight Attendants where the experience levels are most lacking.
A Qantas spokesperson says the airline is also busy recruiting externally and hopes to have 1,500 new flight attendants fully trained by the end of 2023.
After a rocky start on its road to recovery, embattled chief executive Alan Joyce recently declared Qantas was “back to its best”. Domestically, flight capacity has already reached 100 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while international capacity should hit 80 per cent of 2019 levels by the middle of this year.