Australian airline Qantas has asked senior executives to serve as baggage handlers for three months as it tries to deal with an acute labour shortage.
The firm’s head of operations is looking for at least 100 volunteers to work at Sydney and Melbourne airports. Tasks include loading and unloading bags and driving vehicles to carry luggage around airports.
Like most global airline industries, Qantas struggles to restart its services as borders reopen.
“The high levels of winter flu and a Covid spike across the community, coupled with the ongoing tight labour market, make resourcing a challenge across our industry,” Qantas’ chief operating officer Colin Hughes said in an email shared with the BBC by the company.
“There is no expectation that you will opt into this role on top of your full-time position,” Mr Hughes added.
The managers and executives were asked to work in the baggage handling roles for three or five days a week, in shifts of four or six hours a day.
The note said applicants need to be able to move suitcases weighing as much as 32kg each.
“We’ve been clear that our operational performance has not been meeting our customers’ expectations or the standards that we expect of ourselves – and that we’ve been pulling out all stops to improve our performance,” a Qantas spokesperson told the BBC.
“As we have done in the past during busy periods, around 200 head office staff have helped at airports during peak travel periods since Easter.”
Qantas was among airlines hit hard by the pandemic as countries closed their borders, grounding planes. The industry laid off thousands of staff during the pandemic, many of which were the ground staff.
As measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 have eased worldwide, Qantas and other major airlines have struggled to resume services at the scale seen before the pandemic.
UK airlines and airports have also faced staff shortages, contributing to delays and cancellations during holiday periods.