Qantas chairman stepping down early as airline works to repair its reputation

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Singapore SA2024

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder has announced his early retirement, just months after receiving a widely-criticised $100,000 pay rise, according to Australian media reports. Goyer will step aside as chairman of Qantas before the airline’s annual general meeting in late-2024 as part of a wider refresh, the airline said in a statement released on 11 October.

The 63-year-old came under fire after he reportedly accepted a salary increase during a turbulent time for the airline, with his total remuneration rising to $750,000. Goyder is understood to have been paid about $2,500,000 since taking over as chairman in 2018 after a year on the board. His departure comes after he told a Senate inquiry he would not step aside following the departure of former CEO Alan Joyce. Joyce was replaced by Vanessa Hudson in September as criticism mounted over the blocking of Qatar Airlines flights, local media reports said.

In its statement, Qantas said “the Qantas Board announces plans for board renewal in recognition of the reputational issues facing the Group and to support restoration of trust in the company. Chairman Richard Goyder will retire prior to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in late 2024. As announced in May, non-executive director Michael L’Estrange will retire at this year’s AGM on 3 November 2023. To facilitate further renewal, Jacqueline Hey and Maxine Brenner will retire at the Qantas half-year results in February 2024 after 10 years of service.

“As planned, three new directors will offer themselves for election at this year’s AGM (Doug Parker, Dr Heather Smith, and CEO and Managing Director Vanessa Hudson) as well as two existing directors (Todd Sampson and Belinda Hutchinson),” the airline said. “Once the new directors are in place, the Board is expected to have an average tenure of around three years at the 2024 AGM, providing a balance of fresh leadership with necessary continuity.”

Goyder said: “As a Board, we acknowledge the significant reputational and customer service issues facing the Group and recognise that accountability is required to restore trust. Qantas has gone through an incredibly difficult period since our operation was grounded during the pandemic. The recovery has not been easy, and mistakes were made. We again apologise for those times where we got it wrong. I have always sought to act in the best interests of Qantas. Measured and orderly succession at Board level will support the important work underway led by Vanessa and her new management team. Fundamentally, the Group is in a very strong position to overcome its current challenges and deliver for all its stakeholders in the years ahead.”

The airline also said the company’s board “has initiated the process to appoint new non-executive directors in the months ahead as well as a new Chairman. New committee roles will be appointed in due course. The Board has also commenced a process of independently reviewing key governance matters over the past 12 months and will share outcomes in the second quarter of calendar year 2024.”


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