UPDATED: Qantas CEO Joyce moves up retirement as airline faces host of challenges

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Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

Singapore SA2024Updates with comments from AIPA

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has advised the Board he will bring forward his retirement by two months to help the company accelerate its renewal. As a result, CEO Designate Vanessa Hudson will assume the role of Managing Director and Group CEO effective 6 September 2023.

The move comes after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission on 31 August sued Qantas for allegedly continuing to take money from ticket sales on more than 8,000 cancelled flights between May and July 2022. According to the regulator, Qantas kept selling tickets for an average of more than two weeks, and sometimes longer than a month. Qantas also allegedly took weeks to tell ticketholders on more than 10,000 flights that their services had been pulled. The watchdog is pursuing a record penalty of more than A$250 million ($162 million) if the case is proven in court.

Joyce said: “In the last few weeks, the focus on Qantas and events of the past make it clear to me that the company needs to move ahead with its renewal as a priority. The best thing I can do under these circumstances is to bring forward my retirement and hand over to Vanessa and the new management team now, knowing they will do an excellent job. There is a lot I am proud of over my 22 years at Qantas, including the past 15 years as CEO. 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,” Joyce said.

Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder said: “Alan has always had the best interests of Qantas front and centre, and today shows that. On behalf of the Board, we sincerely thank him for his leadership through some enormous challenges and for thinking well-ahead on opportunities like ultra long-haul travel. 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, and that’s what the Board is focused on, and what the management under Vanessa’s leadership will do,” added Mr Goyder.

As planned, shareholders will formally vote on the appointment of Vanessa Hudson as Managing Director at Qantas’ Annual General Meeting in November. The announcement means one of the executive changes announced in June this year will also be accelerated, namely the appointment of Rob Marcolina as the Group’s Chief Financial Officer in-line with current CFO, Vanessa Hudson’s, transition to the Group CEO role.

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), which represents Qantas Group pilots, said it “trusts that today’s announcement by the outgoing CEO of Qantas will provide the circuit breaker needed to allow Qantas to move forward. We look forward to working constructively with incoming CEO Vanessa Hudson to rebuild our iconic airline into the respected and trusted brand that has made all Australians proud,” said AIPA President Captain Tony Lucas. “There is much work to be done, however we trust that Ms Hudson recognises the power of respecting and valuing all Qantas staff and how that can play a significant role in the renewal of the airline. The Spirit of Australia may be deflated, but it is not defeated and if we all work together, I’m confident Qantas can be great once more.”

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