The departure of Alan Joyce would allow Qantas “to accelerate its rejuvenation”, conveying the idea of a company giving in to public and political demands after having endured them for years.
Australian carrier Qantas Airways has said its longtime CEO will bring forward his retirement amid a publicity storm over an accusation of illegal ticket sales, signaling what the flagship airline hopes will be the end of a tumultuous period.
Alan Joyce, the company’s boss of 15 years, was due to retire in November but said in a statement on Tuesday that he was leaving two months early due to “the focus on Qantas and events in the past” these last weeks. without elaborating.
Five days earlier, Australia’s consumer watchdog sued Qantas, alleging it sold tickets for some 8,000 flights in mid-2022 after they were canceled in breach of national consumer law. Qantas had issued two apologies, blaming difficult industry conditions at the time.
The airline said Joyce’s departure would help it “accelerate its renewal”, giving the impression of a company bowing to public and political pressure after years of resisting it.
For more than 15 years, Joyce has been regularly criticized for cutting jobs, including in 2011, following a labor dispute, grounding the entire Qantas fleet.
Even before the no flight fares scandal, Qantas was making negative headlines following reports that it successfully campaigned for the Australian Federal Government to stop rival Qatar Airways from operating additional flights to Australia. .
The airline has also come under scrutiny following a decision to let almost 500 million Australian dollars ($323.00 million) in flight credits expire by the end of the year. pandemic period, a decision she reversed shortly after the regulator filed her complaint.
Joyce, who announced record annual profit last month after three years of pandemic-induced losses, had long been popular with investors.
But the airline’s share price has fallen 13% since early August, amid speculation whether it has maximized profits at the expense of its long-term reputation with customers. Shares were down slightly on Tuesday, in line with the broader market.
“Alan Joyce’s Qantas legacy is…a brand now synonymous with low pay, precarious work, illegal dismissals and consumer rip-offs,” said Labor Senator Tony Sheldon, former leader of the Labor Union. transport workers, in a press release.
“The board supported Joyce’s behavior every step of the way and must be held equally accountable,” he added.
Qantas declined a request for an interview from its chairman, Richard Goyder. Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Goyder said it was “a humbling moment, and I think you’ll see a lot of that as well”.
Joyce’s early retirement will see her replacement Vanessa Hudson become the first woman to lead the century-old airline from Wednesday. ($1 = 1.5480 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney and Aishwarya Nair in Bangalore; editing by Jamie Freed)