In a bid to cut its mishandled bag rate Qantas is increasing the transit time from international to domestic flights by 30 minutes to 90 minutes in Sydney and Melbourne.

The airline says that while the rate of mishandled bags has improved significantly since the levels over Easter it is still above pre-COVID levels.

Qantas says that passengers booking online or with a travel agent will only be provided flight options with 90-minute connection times.

Passengers with existing bookings from August 21 onwards that have a domestic to international transfer at Sydney or Melbourne airports that is less than 90 minutes will be moved to an earlier flight at no additional cost.

Qantas says passengers will be contacted directly to notify them of the change with the vast majority of being moved to an earlier flight on the same day.

The airline is also easing back the numbers of flights beyond the 10 per cent already announced.

That reduction will help staffing levels as the airline battles sick leave due to COVID and flu spikes which is tracking at around 50 per cent higher than normal.

The Qantas Group has also hired more than 1500 additional people since April, up from the previously advised 1000, with more than 80 per cent of these in operational roles such as cabin crew, pilots, and engineers.

Qantas says these measures will see the Group progressively back to pre-COVID standards over the next couple of months.

Senior executives are meeting daily to examine the operations and measures to improve the airline’s performance and have been spending time in key ports to listen to and observe the challenges being faced by operational staff.

The airline says its current mishandled bag rate is 9 in 1000 customers compared to a pre-COVID rate of about 5 in 1000.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said that “while there are lots of good reasons why the simple fact is our operational performance hasn’t been up to the standard our customers are used to, or that we expect of ourselves.

“We are taking additional steps to get back to our best, which have been shaped by feedback from our frontline teams who are doing a phenomenal job under tough circumstances.

“Bringing our operations back to pre-COVID standard and maintaining our focus on safety is our absolute priority,” Mr Joyce said.

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