/ 06 September 2023

Joyce hits the departure lounge

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty


Qantas CEO Alan Joyce will hand over to his successor Vanessa Hudson today, 2 months earlier than planned. He’s one of Australia’s most recognisable business executives, and yesterday, he said he’s heading out so the company can “move ahead with its renewal as a priority”. That’s a reference to the heavy criticism and scrutiny Joyce and Qantas have attracted in recent weeks, with chairman Richard Goyder saying there was an understanding “that a circuit breaker might not be a bad thing and give us clear air.” One guy who’s not a member of the Joyce Fan Club is Transport Workers Union boss Michael Kaine – he said it’s “the first good decision the Qantas board has made for a very long time”.


Plenty of things have earned Qantas the ‘besieged’ label… Last week, the ACCC launched legal action claiming Qantas sold tickets for more than 8,000 cancelled flights – something the company apologised for on Monday. The travel credits issue came to a head last week – that’s about the airline’s make-good program for customers who had flights cancelled during the pandemic. Add to that the Albanese Government’s decision to refuse Qatar Airways’ request to operate more flights to Oz, a decision now being looked into by a parliamentary inquiry. And as Joyce spruiked a record $2.47 billion profit, travellers have continuing concerns about service levels, and the union is maintaining the rage over “years of decimated jobs and standards, illegal outsourcing, and outrageous bonuses”. 


It is, and the team have a job ahead of them… Just on Hudson, she’s a 28-year Qantas veteran and was most recently the chief financial officer. Goyder says Joyce and the board believe that “Vanessa is ready”. Yesterday she said “post-COVID we haven’t always delivered to what our customers expect but we are listening and we hear what they are saying. As a company, our job is to get the balance right between looking after our customers, our people and the business itself.” As for the chairman, there are calls for his resignation, but he told The Australian he’s staying put to “do what we need to do. And I think my role in that is pretty important.” Short on patience are shareholders who want immediate action to recoup the 12% share price dip inflicted on the company over the last month. On Monday, the Shareholders Association called for millions of dollars of executives’ bonuses to be withheld as a sign that they get it. Buckle up…

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