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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce retires early in wake of horror month for airline

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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce retires early in wake of horror month for airline

Alan Joyce

It’s been a turbulent time for Qantas, more metaphorically than physically. The airline has been facing public scrutiny and long-time leader Alan Joyce has today announced he will retire sooner than expected.

The travel industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. Many airlines narrowly survived, relying on government bailouts and mass redundancies. In the wake of these pressures, Australian carrier Qantas has been facing massive public backlash with complaints regarding delayed flights, lost baggage or flights not even existing at all.

‘Ghost flights’ keep Qantas in the headlines

Last week, Qantas ended up back in hot water and the headlines when a regulatory probe saw that the airline had sold approximately 8000 ‘ghost tickets’. These are tickets for flights that are no longer scheduled, a hangover from 2022’s different timetable. The airline is facing up to $600 million for the oversight.

Not only has the company been rocked by ticketing issues, it has also had a 787 long-haul aircraft out of service, affecting the international schedules.

Alan Joyce to leave post after 15 years

Earlier this year, CEO Joyce announced that he would be stepping down from his position in November. After 22 years with the airline and 15 years as CEO, Joyce has been facing criticism, most recently surrounding his eye-watering salary. One of the highest paid CEOs in Australia, Joyce takes home a whopping $24 million annually. 

But after announcing that he would be retiring in November, Joyce announced on 5 September 2023 that he would be standing down from his post, effective immediately.

“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 when explaining his sudden departure.

Taking over the not-so-coveted position is Vanessa Hudson, who previously held the chief financial officer role. 

“The best thing I can do under these circumstances is to bring forward my retirement and hand it over to Hudson and the new management team now, knowing they will do an excellent job,” Joyce said. 

Qantas losing mass appeal 

For Australian airlines, Qantas has always taken pole position as the most prestigious. But with stories becoming more frequent and worsening surrounding woeful call centre service, inexplicably slow refunds and confusing frequent flyer point redemption. 

More and more, the airline is losing its public and brand credibility. The RepTrak benchmark which is used to rank the top 60 companies in Australia has warned off Qantas’ slipping trust. In 2022, the company took out the number five spot in the rankings. In August 2023, it sat at 16.


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Liv Croagh

Liv Croagh was the Managing Editor of Marketing Mag from September 2021 to September 2023.

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