New Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson has taken to social media to apologise to customers and promise to fix the myriad problems that have left passengers ‘frustrated’ with the Australian flag carrier.
Many Australians have lost trust in the scandal-hit carrier after competition regulators accused Qantas of selling tickets for more than 8,000 flights that had already been cancelled. The damaging lawsuit is still pending.
The airline was already suffering from a loss of trust due to its poor operational performance, sky-high ticket prices, overt government lobbying and its bid to stop Qatar Airways from winning additional flying rights to Australia in order to reduce competition and keep prices high.
Hudson wasn’t due to take over as chief executive until November but had to quickly step into the role on September 6 after former CEO Alan Joyce brought forward his retirement by two months as the pressure on Qantas continued to mount.
Promising a clean slate, Hudson issued a contrite apology, saying: “I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that, I am sorry. We haven’t delivered the way we should have, and we have often been difficult to deal with.”
In a short video message, Hudson heaped praise on staff and promised to regain the trust of Australians with a slew of changes.
“We understand why you are frustrated and why some of you have lost trust in us. I know that our people have tried their absolute best in very difficult circumstances. I want you to know that we’re determined to fix it, to improve the experience for you and to support our people better,” Hudson continued.
“We want to get back to the national carrier that Australians can be proud of, that’s known for going above and beyond. We understand that we need to earn your trust back, not by what we say but by what we do and how we behave.”
To start, Hudson says the airline is already hiring more call centre staff, adding more frequent flyer seats and giving frontline staff more flexibility to help customers when there’s disruption. Hudson also says the airline is currently reviewing all of its customer policies to make sure they are fair.
Hudson did, however, warn customers that the improvements would take time and changes might not be immediately obvious.
“This has been a humbling period,” Huson reflected. “But through it, I share the pride and passion that I know our people have for Qantas, and this gives me the confidence that we will rebuild your trust.”
Earlier this week, the Qantas board said it was holding back some of ex-CEO Aln Joyce’s bonus and could claw back millions of dollars from his bumper 2023 pay award if they discover ‘wrongdoing’.
Pressure, however, continues to grow on board chairman Richard Goyder to also step down – something that he is refusing to do.
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.