Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford told investors at the company’s AGM in Perth on October 21 that while the global economic outlook remained uncertain, the airline was “seeing some encouraging signs and certainly no further deterioration.”
“The Qantas Group is well positioned to withstand this period of downturn with the strengths of its two flying brands, strong management, and dedicated people. And the Group will be ready to emerge strongly, and seize the opportunities when conditions improve,” said Clifford.
Speaking alongside Clifford after the AGM at a press conference, CEO Alan Joyce noted that the airline had been able to maintain loads over the year by cutting fares and yields, with international yields down 20 per cent while domestic yields were down “in the low teens”. He also noted that the airline has started raising its fares domestically, and expects to continue to do so.
“The yields in the future have to go up because for a lot of airlines out there, particularly our competitors, the yields that they are offering aren’t sustainable,” said Joyce.
He added that while leisure traffic has been strong and has assisted the airline’s loads, business traffic has not yet recovered. “We are not seeing an improvement in the business traffic. We still see the business traffic as being weak. That is something that needs to improve.”
The AGM was dominated by discussion about the airline’s payout to former chief executive Geoff Dixon, which totalled $10.7 million after compensation was given to Dixon for changes to superannuation tax changes affecting his contract. As a result, more than 42 per cent of shareholders voted to reject the board’s remuneration report, although it was still officially passed.
Shareholders also re-elected General Peter Cosgrove (Ret’d), Gary Hounsell and James Strong to the board, although the latter faced some backlash due to his handling of the Dixon payout as chair of the airline’s remuneration committee.