Qantas boss retiring two months early
Embattled Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce is retiring two months earlier than planned, the Australian airline said Tuesday, with Vanessa Hudson taking over as the carrier’s first female boss.
Joyce, 57, will step down on Wednesday, with Hudson in charge as managing director, the airline said in a statement that followed a turbulent few weeks for Qantas.
Australia’s consumer watchdog last week launched legal action alleging the country’s flagship carrier sold 8,000 tickets for flights it had already cancelled.
“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,” Joyce said in a statement.
“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.”
Qantas posted an annual profit of US$1.1 billion last month, capping a major financial rebound from the travel-hit Covid-19 years.
Under Joyce’s stewardship, the airline drastically restructured to get its books in better shape — infuriating transport unions after sacking or standing down thousands of staff at the height of the pandemic.
Joyce said there had been “many ups and downs” during his 22 years at Qantas, the last 15 as chief executive, and there was “clearly much work still to be done, especially to make sure we always deliver for our customers”.
The airline’s chairman, Richard Goyder, said Joyce “always had the best interests of Qantas front and centre”, but added that “this transition comes at what is obviously a challenging time” for the carrier.
“We have an important job to do in restoring the public’s confidence in the kind of company we are,” Goyder added.
Qantas has said their shareholders will formally vote on Hudson’s appointment at their annual general meeting in November.