Online Check-In Breakdown Highlights Importance Of Front Line Staff

Release date: 16/11/2012

Major flaws in airline online check-in programs, which delayed hundreds of passengers across Australia last weekend, further reinforce the fact that while technological advances are welcome, they must never come at the expense of proper staffing levels at all airlines flying in Australia. That’s according to Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU).

Tony was speaking after an online check-in system used by Jetstar, Virgin and Tiger crashed last Saturday stranding passengers across Australia and placing enormous pressure on staff. “It is clear from the debacle at the weekend, where hundreds of passengers were delayed because of a systems crash, that while technology is crucial in today’s modern aviation industry, it must only act to assist sufficient levels of front line staff and never as a replacement.”

“As airlines move to further integrate technological advances, such as smartphones and online check- in into everyday use, this must not be used as a pretext for the further reduction of front line staff.”

“When these systems go down, not only does it have an economic impact that ripples throughout the Australian economy, but when there’s not enough staff to ensure the smooth management of the situation, it impacts upon passengers who become understandably frustrated – placing enormous pressure on staff, with the potential for security breaches during periods of extreme disruption.”

Tony continued: “This is an important issue which the TWU will be surveying our members across the airline industry on over the coming weeks. It is crucial to hear opinions on whether the current training to deal with these emergencies is sufficient, what improvements are needed in company support and on the adequate levels of compensation to staff. The results of these surveys will inform our bargaining for new workplace agreements on behalf of our members across the aviation industry.”

Tony Sheldon concluded: “While passengers and our members recognise how powerful a tool technology can be in aviation, it must never be allowed to replace people, otherwise when electronic systems break down we have chaos at our airports. A safe and secure Australian aviation industry depends on a proper number of staff being assisted by technology, not replaced by it.”

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