An Australian union representing Qantas pilots has called for the airline’s chairman to resign in a damming letter which spells out a plethora of grievances.
The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) confirmed on September 26, 2023, that the union’s president, captain Tony Lucas, wrote to the airline’s new CEO Vanessa Hudson regarding the chairman Richard Goyder.
Lucas explained that the “morale of Qantas pilots has never been lower” and questioned how the Australian flag carrier can reset the culture while the chairman remains in his position.
“Qantas is more than just an airline – it is a symbol of national pride and trust. For our great national carrier to flourish, it needs leadership from a Board that understands the value of its employees, respects its customers and can win back the trust of the nation,” Lucas wrote.
Qantas has faced fierce scrutiny after it lost a legal battle with a union over the sacking of thousands of ground staff in 2020 and is also being sued separately by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for the airline’s alleged advertisement and sale of tickets for flights it had already canceled.
“Richard Goyder has overseen one of the most damaging periods in Qantas history which has included the illegal sacking of 1,700 workers, allegations of illegally marketing cancelled flights, and a terribly managed return to operations after COVID-19,” Lucas wrote in his letter.
The union also claimed that the chairman was “tone-deaf” after accepting a pay-rise while employees continued to have wages frozen.
“Despite overseeing the destruction of the Qantas brand, Goyder last week accepted a near $100,000 pay rise – taking his pay to $750,000 – while staff are expected to accept a two-year wage freeze. This is a galling and tone-deaf decision,” Lucas added.
On September 22, 2023, the situation had become so unstable for the airline that the CEO was forced to make a public apology on camera in which she apologized to its customers after a “humbling period” in the airline’s history.
However, the chairman stated last week that he still retains the confidence of the Qantas board.
“While I retain that confidence, I’ll get to work and do the things we need to do to deal with some of the issues we’ve got at the moment,” Goyder told The World Today. “And the latest read I’ve got is that people want me to continue to do the role.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has refused to comment on whether Goyder should resign but has spoken about the damage caused to the airline over recent weeks.
“What we know is that Qantas has a lot of work to do to repair the damage that has been done to its reputation, both in terms of its workers and its customers. There is an important need for Qantas – it’s an important Australian company, an important Australian brand, and there’s a lot of work to do to repair its reputation,” Prime Minister Albanese said.
According to Reuters, Qantas has also been accused of lobbying the government to prevent Qatar Airways operating more flights to Australia.