REPORTS: Qantas CEO target of irate Australians upset over poor performance of national carrier

Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce suffered an egg and toilet paper attack on his multi-million dollar  Sydney home in July, according to media reports, which are attributing the vandalism to people upset at the airline’s recent poor performance, flight delays, cancellation and lost baggage.

Joyce has been a polarising figure to some and a hero to others for moves he has made to help the airline weather the COVID pandemic. But Qantas, like other airlines around the world, has suffered recently as travellers take to the skies in higher numbers than the airlines were prepared for. Qantas, like others, laid off thousands of workers, outsourced its ground handling operations, and made other deep staff cuts to survive the pandemic, but which have also left it vulnerable due to the number of people flocking back to travel.

As the problems at Qantas continue to expand and multiply, some of his opponents, especially in Australia’s trade unions, are hoping Joyce will be forced to step down, although most observers say that is unlikely if Joyce continues to deliver shareholder returns.

Qantas survived the pandemic by cutting more than 8,000 jobs and a A$15 billion cost-slashing program. Those cuts provide ammunition to critics who argue that Joyce has gutted Qantas so comprehensively it can’t function now that demand has returned, according to a Bloomberg report.

It’s a stunning reversal for Joyce, 56, who won the devotion of shareholders by resurrecting Qantas twice in less than a decade through a series of ruthless job and spending cuts. He’s perhaps the nearest thing in Australia to a celebrity CEO, Bloomberg reported. None of that seems to matter to passengers who’ve endured hours-long check-in queues, especially during peak holiday periods, or slept rough at foreign airports after flight delays. Qantas canceled 8.1 percent of domestic services in June, the latest available government data show. Some luggage has gone missing for weeks.

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