Alan Joyce, the outgoing chief executive of Australian flag carrier Qantas, has resigned with immediate effect following a tortuous week for the airline, in which his leadership has come under intense scrutiny.
Qantas is now facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit from regulators who have uncovered a slew of dodgy practices by the airline, including allegations that it continued to sell tickets for more than 8,000 flights that had already been cancelled.
The airline was also blasted over its attempt to expire COVID travel vouchers in December, forcing a U-turn earlier this week, while Joyce has faced personal criticism over his decision to accept a $10 million bonus in Qantas shares.
If that wasn’t enough, Joyce faced a grilling from lawmakers over the airline’s post-pandemic performance, but the veteran aviation leader refused to answer questions over how the Prime Minister’s son managed to swag membership of Qantas’ ultra-exclusive Chairmans Club.
Joyce announced his planned retirement back in June and originally intended to leave the airline in November, but on Tuesday, the embattled CEO said he was bringing forward his departure – in reality, that meant he was resigning with immediate effect.
As a result, CEO Designate Vanessa Hudson will become Qantas Managing Director and Group CEO from September 6, 2023.
In a prepared statement, Joyce said: “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.”
“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.”
Joyce said he had “a lot to be proud of” during his 22-year career at Qantas, 15 of which were as the airline’s CEO.
“There have been many ups and downs, and there is clearly much work still to be done, especially to make sure we always deliver for our customers. But I leave knowing that the company is fundamentally strong and has a bright future,” Joyce continued.
During the pandemic, Joyce’s remuneration package came under intense scrutiny during a time when thousands of employees were stood down, jobs were contracted out, and many other staff had their pay, terms and conditions slashed.
His leadership was also called into question as pandemic restrictions were finally lifted and Qantas started to ramp up its operation, only to be beset by delays, cancellations and mountains of lost luggage.
Last July, he even had his luxury $19 million mansion pelted with eggs and toilet paper by demonstrators in an apparent protest at his treatment of staff. Joyce has defended his actions at the height of the pandemic, arguing that touch action was required to prevent the business from collapsing.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.