DALLAS — Qantas (QF) CEO Alan Joyce will depart from his position two months earlier than anticipated due to recent controversies surrounding the airline’s profits and service. The decision was made to expedite the company’s rejuvenation, according to a Tuesday release from the airline.
Vanessa Hudson, the CEO designate, will now take on the role of managing director and group CEO starting on September 6.
Mr. Joyce, who was the CEO of Qantas Airways Limited from 2008, stated that recent events and the focus on QF made it evident that the company needed to prioritize its renewal. In light of these circumstances, he believed that bringing forward his retirement and handing the airline over to Hudson, who first joined the airline in 1994, and the new management team would be the best course of action.
Qantas has faced a challenging week, with Mr. Joyce facing tough questioning regarding airfares, COVID refunds, allegations of protection from competitor Qatar Airways (QR), and a lawsuit from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). On Friday, Joyce received A$10.8 million in shares as deferred bonuses for 2020, 2021, and 2022. He is also expected to receive a short-term bonus of up to A$4.3 million and long-term bonus shares worth A$8 million for the previous financial year.
In response to allegations of “false, misleading, and deceptive conduct” in selling tickets for canceled flights, the carrier issued a contrite public apology on Monday, September 4. The ACCC launched a Federal Court action seeking penalties, injunctions, declarations, and costs exceeding A$250 million.
While QF indicated it may contest the court action, the company acknowledged the significant concern among customers and Australians. The carrier admitted that its service standards fell short during the period mentioned in the ACCC’s claims, expressing an apology and a determination to repair its reputation.
Adding fuel to the fire, Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) National Secretary Michael Kaine said the former CEO had left “one of the biggest messes in corporate Australia’s history in his wake.”
The situation regarding flight restrictions and accusations of a government “protection racket” to benefit QF are part of that mess. Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie had already called for a Senate inquiry into the decision to block 21 additional QR flights, which had the potential to lower airfares and benefit the Australian tourism industry.
All this is now on Hudson’s plate, but we can expect her to concentrate her efforts on fast tracking the QF fleet renewal, first and foremost.
The TWU and Australian Services Union are advocating for a “reset” at QF following the departure of Joyce. Both unions have expressed their desire for a fresh start under the leadership of Hudson, who will assume her role on Wednesday.
Featured image: Qantas