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Domestic airport chaos: one in 10 luggage items lost

A third-party baggage handler has revealed that as many as one in 10 pieces of luggage is not being loaded onto Qantas domestic flights each day at Sydney Airport, citing staff shortages, poor pay and increased workloads for the issue as interstate travel takes off.

A third-party baggage handler has revealed that as many as one in 10 pieces of luggage is not being loaded onto Qantas domestic flights each day at Sydney Airport, citing staff shortages, poor pay and increased workloads for the issue as interstate travel takes off.

The baggage handler, who works for cargo services contractor Swissport, told Guardian Australia that employees loading and transporting bags to and from Qantas and Jetstar flights were overworked, poorly paid and unable to handle the increase in baggage as domestic travel has soared.

The worker said that of the 100 trolleys or so that carry 30 to 40 pieces of luggage to and from Qantas planes daily at Sydney Domestic Airport, about 10 trolleys of baggage do not make the plane each day.

Baggage
One in 10 trolleys of baggage daily does not make the plane.

The latest claims come as Qantas and Jetstar added additional staff to streamline check-in and airport queues over the weekend as school holidays continue across Australia.

During school holiday peaks, office managers from Qantas and Swissport have helped move luggage alongside handlers, however the baggage handler said the workers were still overwhelmed.

While carriers have always used third-party contractors to fulfil ground handling services away from their hubs, this reliance by Australia’s major airlines has meant the recent increase in lost luggage, together with delays, cancellations and bad weather, have been significant contributors to the chaotic scenes at Australian airports this year.

Qantas has had a shortage of baggage handlers since its 2020 decision to outsource about 1,700 jobs.

Sydney Airport also recently advertised 5,000 job vacancies across 800 organisations to cope with the July school holiday peak, including 1,200 roles to be filled at Swissport, ndata, Menzies and Certis by the end of July.

For more, head to www.sydneyairport.com.au/jobsfair