Qantas CEO exits role earlier than scheduled due to mounting pressure

Qantas' current CEO, Alan Joyce, is accelerating his retirement following a lawsuit against the airline
Ceri Breeze /

Qantas Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Joyce has left his post earlier than scheduled after the airline faced legal action for alleged illicit practices.

Qantas announced the leadership changes on September 5, 2023, stating that Joyce will accelerate his retirement by two months. He will be replaced by the current designate-CEO, Vanessa Hudson, who will assume the role of managing director and CEO of Qantas Group from September 6, 2023.

“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, adding that the best thing for him to do right now was to “bring forward my retirement and hand over to Vanessa and the new management team now, knowing they will do an excellent job”.

Meanwhile, Qantas chairman Ricard Goyder said that the leadership change comes “at what is obviously a challenging time for Qantas and its people”.

“We have an important job to do in restoring the public’s confidence in the kind of company we are, and that’s what the Board is focused on, and what the management under Vanessa’s leadership will do,” Goyder continued.

However, Qantas’ shareholders will still need to vote on whether to approve Hudson as the new managing director at the group’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November 2023.

The de facto national flag carrier of Australia has found itself under the spotlight after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued Qantas on August 31, 2032, alleging the airline had sold tickets for more than 8,000 flights that had already been canceled.

Furthermore, the ACCC alleged that between May and July 2022, the airline canceled more than 10,000 flights without informing customers about the changes for an average of 18 days. In some cases, passengers remained in the dark for 48 days.

“[…] we have commenced these proceedings alleging that Qantas continued selling tickets for thousands of cancelled flights, likely affecting the travel plans of tens of thousands of people,” Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the chair of the ACCC, said at the time.

Cass-Gottlieb noted that such practices left Qantas’ customers “with less time to make alternative arrangements and may have led to them paying higher prices to fly at a particular time not knowing that flight had already been cancelled”.

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