Repeated Qantas flight cancellations late at night have left Broome guests stranded with no accommodation, with locals offering extra beds to watch tourists stay overnight.
The most recent cancellations on Thursday 9th June and Monday 13th June saw the last planes out of Broome on the can of Qantas due to mechanical problems, leaving passengers without accommodation.
With hotels and hostels in the city at full capacity, airport staff rushed to call for help on Broome’s social media groups.
Robyn Maher, who has coordinated accommodation on Broome’s Facebook groups for passengers – including finding rooms that could offer an extra bed, sofa or air mattress – said the cancellation of late-night flights had become more and more widespread in the recent weeks.
“It’s really, really bad. It’s very terribly inconvenient for these poor people,” she said.
“I picked up a guy and he was so grateful to just have a bed because he had worked night shifts, had not been given anything to eat and had no place to stay.”
Classic Taxi operator Jo Sampson, who warns Ms Maher about stranded passengers at the airport, said they were grateful when they were offered a place to stay overnight.
“I did not even charge some of them because it’s probably painful for them,” she said.
Platinum Cosmetic Ink owner and chief beauty therapist Juanita French said she felt helpless after falling victim to a late-night flight canceled on June 13.
“I was pretty emotional because it’s not a nice feeling to be stranded and not know where to sleep … it’s pretty scary,” she said.
Ms. French estimates she lost between $ 4,000 and $ 6,000 due to the cancellation.
“I had booked a full day with customers for Tuesday in Perth,” she said. “I called them the next morning and they were quite unhappy.
“I was thinking, should I sleep here with my suitcases? Should I sleep in a hostel? I guess all that kind of thing came to mind, and I was pretty crying.”
Ms French said that had it not been for the Broome community, who came together to help stranded passengers, the experience would have been more traumatic.
“If it were not for beautiful Jo, the taxi lady who took me in, God knows what would have happened to me,” she said.
“If I can avoid it, I will never fly Qantas again.”
A spokesman for Qantas said Qantas apologized to customers who had been affected by the disruption.
“Unfortunately, we have had to cancel a number of Broome flights recently due to the mechanical requirements of the aircraft,” the spokesman said.
“We now have a full-time engineer based in Broome and are working to build our local engineering capabilities to minimize the risk of cancellations.
“We are also continuing to experience COVID-related staffing challenges in some places, particularly in WA, which have affected our regional operations.”
The spokesman said Qantas is exploring all options to support customers during these outages, including finding any available last-minute accommodation.