internal reminders reveal Qantas ground security incidents

internal reminders reveal Qantas ground security incidents

internal reminders reveal Qantas ground security incidents

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<p><figcaption class=Photograph: William West / EPA

Personnel loading Qantas flights were injured, a ladder rolled off a plane while the cabin door was open, baggage containers were damaged, and firearms were left unattended on rides, according to inside notes. issued by the Transport Workers’ Union.

The safety notes, which date back between January and July of this year, were written by executives at Swissport, which took over baggage handling for Qantas in December after the airline fired 2,000 workers in an outsourcing move that the federal court found it illegal. Qantas has consistently denied doing anything illegal and appealed the decision.

Qantas said the release of the notes was a “cynical” move by the union and said specialized ground workers now have a lower rate of security incidents than in previous years.

It follows chaos at airports in recent months that has left Qantas passengers stranded overseas, led to 10% of baggage at the Sydney Domestic Terminal not flying, sent meandering queues at airports, and damaged the airline’s public image. aerial, forcing CEO Alan Joyce to apologize.

Related: Jetstar flights have been canceled, leaving 4,000 passengers stranded overseas for up to a week

In January, a Swissport worker was injured after getting his hand stuck under a box.

“The cargo object fell over the hold operator’s finger, causing it to be crushed like a finger wound,” Swissport said in a January 17 statement.

In another incident, a container loaded on a flight operated by Jetstar, a Qantas subsidiary, “containing more than 30 passenger bags was crushed and torn apart,” reveals a note from Swissport dated 17 July.

In a March 4 note, ground crew were warned of “a couple of events where a driver on the ramp came into contact with a fuel hose,” although no fuel spills had occurred.

“If fuel is spilled on the asphalt, it can create a source of ignition and … it can increase the risk of a serious event occurring.”

In April, Swissport workers were twice warned of firearms left on the general baggage carousel.

“There has been an increase in incidents where firearms were improperly unloaded on the arrival carousel rather than handed over to baggage services,” employees were told in an April 30 statement.

“These are serious security breaches, as these items are left unattended on the arrival carousel, which is open to the public, effectively allowing anyone to pick up the item and leave.”

Procedures for handling firearms were revised in July, documents show.

“There was a recent event where a series of manual passenger ladders were removed from the aircraft while the passenger door remained open,” Swissport said in a January 9 safety note.

Other issues raised in the reminders include staff breaking speed limits in baggage areas and leaving debris that can damage jet engines on the airport.

The documents also show that Swissport acknowledges that it was unable to meet the demand for flights which increased after the end of the pandemic restrictions.

Related: Discouraged Australia: After losing the nation’s trust, can the Qantas brand bounce back?

“The company is keenly aware that our human resource levels are simply not at a sustainable level to meet ongoing demand from airlines,” said the company’s general manager at Sydney Airport in a letter dated March 23 to employees.

Swissport sought to increase the number of people at work by buying annual leave and offering hiring bonuses to workers who refer new employees.

The transport workers union wrote to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on Monday asking for “a thorough investigation into Qantas ground handling supply chain safety, including a review of its agreements with the three labor hiring company “.

TWU secretary Michael Kaine said the situation was “a disaster waiting to happen”.

“We would rather sound the alarm than, in the event of a catastrophic event, be accused of remaining silent,” he said.

“The mass exodus of skilled workers and the deliberate fragmentation by Joyce-led Qantas has led to a vast shortage of staff, inexperience and lack of training, leading to a series of serious security incidents.”

A Swissport spokesperson said the company “has one of the strongest safety cultures in the industry” and encourages staff to report all possible safety concerns.

“It is therefore disappointing for the TWU to use internal messages from our team to undermine that safety culture,” the spokesperson said.

Qantas also attacked the union.

“Specialized ground workers have a lower accident rate than when this work was done internally,” said a company spokesperson.

“TWU did not have the same level of concern about these incidents before this work was outsourced. Only from the moment of outsourcing are they publicly commenting on these incidents and the traveling public deserves to be cynical about it.

“This kind of behavior is self-righteous and undermines the strong safety culture that exists throughout Australia’s aviation. We operate in one of the most tightly regulated industries in Australia and are subject to considerable oversight by a number of authorities, including CASA. “

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