Senior executives at the Australian airline Qantas are being asked to work as baggage handlers for three months as the airline’s attempts to deal with acute staff shortages.
The firm’s head of operations is looking for at least 100 volunteers to work at Sydney and Melbourne airports loading and unloading bags as well as driving vehicles to move luggage around airports.
“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 senior employees who answer the emergency call for labour would work for either three or five days a week for shifts lasting as much as six hours at Sydney and Melbourne airports.
Qantas, like most airlines laid off thousands of staff during the pandemic, many of which were ground staff.
In November 2020, Qantas outsourced more than 2,000 ground staff roles, on top of thousands more job cuts it had already announced, in an effort to limit its financial losses.
Last month, the airline apologised after passengers complained of delays and missing luggage.
UK airlines and airports have also faced staff shortages, leading to delays and cancellations during holiday periods.
Shortages of baggage handlers have also been contributing to luggage piling up in terminals.
Airports including Heathrow have put a cap on passenger numbers over the summer to help manage demand, leading to some airlines suspending ticket sales for certain routes.