Home Business Qantas boss exits early amid mounting scandals

Qantas boss exits early amid mounting scandals


Qantas boss Alan Joyce will depart the airline two months earlier than scheduled amid mounting controversies.

Mr Joyce was set to leave in November, after 15 years as chief executive, but will now exit the role immediately.

He said recent attention on “events of the past” made it clear this is “the best thing” he could do.

The airline is the subject of growing public anger after reaping record profits despite a series of scandals.

Chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson will become Qantas’ first female boss when she succeeds Mr Joyce on Wednesday.

In the past two years Qantas has faced a slew of criticism for expensive airfares, mass delays and cancellations, and its treatment of workers.

A week after Qantas announced a record A$2.5bn ($1.6bn; £1.3bn) profit, Australia’s consumer watchdog – the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – said it was taking legal action against the airline over allegations it had sold tickets to thousands of flights it had already cancelled.

The lawsuit, announced last Thursday, means the national carrier is now facing legal action on three fronts.

It is also appealing against a ruling it illegally outsourced thousands of jobs during the pandemic, and fighting a class action from customers over its inflexible flight credit scheme.

Shareholders are now under pressure from some groups – including some parliamentarians – to vote down Mr Joyce’s final remuneration package, which is reportedly up to A$24 million.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Joyce did not address those calls.

He said there was a lot he was proud of over his time at Qantas, but it now needed to “move ahead with its renewal as a priority”.

“There have been many ups and downs, and there is clearly much work still to be done, especially to make sure we always deliver for our customers. But I leave knowing that the company is fundamentally strong and has a bright future,” he said.

Mr Joyce’s Sydney mansion was famously pelted with eggs and toilet paper at the height of the recent airport chaos, and he was struck in the face with a lemon meringue pie in 2017 over his public support for same-sex marriage during a national debate on legalising it.

But Mr Joyce has also won praise for steering the airline through the 2008 financial crisis, the pandemic and record oil prices.

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder paid tribute to Mr Joyce, saying he “has always had the best interests of Qantas front and centre, and today shows that”.

“This transition comes at what is obviously a challenging time for Qantas and its people. We have an important job to do in restoring the public’s confidence in the kind of company we are.”

When her posting was announced in May, Ms Hudson said restoring the airline’s reputation was her top priority.