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Qantas restructures leadership team

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 28, 2017

Qantas has made some leadership changes for the first time since 2014. (Rob Finlayson)
Qantas has made some leadership changes for the first time since 2014. (Rob Finlayson)

Qantas will have new bosses for a number of its business units from November as it shakes up its leadership team following the retirement of a long-time executive.

Among the changes announced on Monday, Alison Webster has been promoted to the executive team as chief executive of Qantas international. Currently, Webster is executive manager of freight, catering and airports, having held a number of different roles at Qantas previously.

“I’m pleased that we will be welcoming a new member to the Qantas executive team, with Alison Webster joining as the CEO of Qantas International,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.

“Alison has close to 30 years’ experience in aviation, including 13 at Qantas. She’s held senior executive roles across commercial, customer and operations here and with British Airways.”

Current Qantas international chief executive Gareth Evans will become Jetstar group chief executive, replacing Jayne Hrdlicka.


In turn, Hrdlicka has been appointed chief executive of Qantas’s loyalty and digital ventures business, taking over from Lesley Grant.

Grant has been named Qantas’s group executive for people and culture, following the retirement of Jon Scriven after eight and a half years at the company.

And Andrew David will add responsibility for freight, catering and airports to his role as Qantas domestic chief executive.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the changes reflected renewal within a well-established team.

“Over the past three years, our senior executive team has led the Group through a major turnaround. We’re now entering a phase of ongoing improvement and innovation, and these changes will help drive that,” Joyce said in a statement.

“This is also about making the best use of the considerable leadership talent at the top level of our organisation.”

In other changes, Olivia Wirth has been named chief customer officer, while retaining her role as group executive for brand, marketing and corporate affairs.

Qantas general counsel and company secretary Andrew Finch also has an expanded role under the new line-up, taking on responsibility for the office of the chief executive.

The executives will take up their new positions from November. Qantas said it was the first restructure of its leadership team since 2014.

The company recently announced net profit fell 17 per cent in 2016/17 to $852 million amid weakness in the resources sector and intense competition on international routes.

Underlying profit before tax, which removes one-off items and was regarded as the best indication of financial performance, fell 8.4 per cent to $1.40 billion, from $1.53 billion achieved in 2015/16.

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Comments (9)

  • Jeff Carswell


    Qantas would do even better by improving its Customer Service which is significantly under performing, providing very poor service. Replacing some, if not all, Customer Service staff and improving service expected by frequent flyers would encourage them to stick with Qantas and not go to other airlines out of frustration.

  • Aussie2020


    To Jeff Carswell above……

    As QF Customer Service staff are in many Departments, to which do you specifically refer?

    Your generalisation is useless.

    Having dealt with QF staff over many decades’ of flying, & being in contact with them, from Telephone Sales, Airport, Baggage Services, Cabin & Technical Crew, I cannot agree with you.

  • Richard


    I wonder how much of that profit will be spent on a a totally unnecessary and ill-conceived brand mark change that has reduced the iconic Kangaroo logo to a squiggle on a tail.

  • Billyo


    Jefff succinctly put it, and I. guess many if not most Qantas customers would agree.

  • Doug bell


    The current frequent flyer program is one of the most anti customer program. I live in the country and many of the brand stores simply do not exsist. The current status points earned on each flight are less than equivalent products. Why stay?

  • Craigy


    @ Jeff Cardwell. I don’t know what flying you do but having flown extensively around the world on a multitude of airlines, I think the Qantas customer service is pretty good. There are exceptions of course. For example on 17 Aug I flew on QF7 Syd to Dallas. The flight was 6 hours late leaving due to air conditioning issues with the aircraft. 90 mins out from Dallas we diverted to Phoenix due to a medical emergency. Unf the passenger passed before we got to Dallas. Throughout the whole time of diverting to Phoenix and onwards to Dallas the flight crew and customer Service in Sydney were great by firstly keeping everyone informed and changing the connection bookings for passengers, however the ground staff at Dallas were a joke. And I will be providing my feedback to Qantas on my return on Wednesday.

    So Billyo I would strongly disagree.

  • Ben


    @Jeff Carswell I would agree with you.

    @Craigy you might disagree with Jeff – but then you’ve given a pretty good example of how poor QF customer service can be. Even going to the extent of saying you will be providing feedback to Qantas.

    Being a FF I would have to say that QF customer service on the whole is below par, considering they call themselves a premium airline. If you’ve paid a premium price I would expect excellent customer service. On balance I would say that domestically VA has at least as good if not better/more genuine customer service than QF at a usually cheaper price. Although I agree both airlines can be a bit hit and miss and VA has lost a lot of it’s character/humour in recent years. Internationally airlines like SQ and CX are much better at customer service than QF. Even over the Pacific I would preference VA ahead of QF.

    I’m sure there’s a lot of committed and genuine customer service staff at QF. From my experience though they’re few and far between. On the whole they mostly seem to have a really arrogant attitude. That goes for check in staff, gate agents and flight attendants. I always feel like I’m getting this subliminal message that I should feel privileged and grateful that I should be allowed to fly with them, Any smiles I get are usually forced and not genuine and I usually feel as if I’m being looked down upon. I don’t get that feeling with any other airline.

    Yes that is a generalisation. I have had some good experiences with QF. However even then they’ve only been slightly above average and hardly exceeded my expectations.

  • Vannus


    Re: ‘lack of customer service’ by various QF staff, in above comments.

    Sometimes it could possibly come down to the actual customer, & the way they treat the staff.
    It can’t be just a ‘one-way’ conversation.
    They’re human beings, & I think good manners’ by passengers’ to staff makes a huge difference.

    I’ve never felt that they’ve been ‘arrogant’ & I’ve never experienced any ‘subliminal messages’.

    I’ve flown in ALL classes on QF Dom, & Intnl, on various aircraft type, as well as differing routes, & I honestly can’t say that there’s been any ‘problems’ with the many staff with whom I’ve been in contact.

    Maybe my attitude to them reflects.
    Maybe I was just lucky, but all was consistent throughout the years’.

  • Ben


    @Vannus – I take your point. It might be a good point but for one thing:

    If it was my attitude that was the problem, why do I not experience these issues when flying on other airlines?

    Maybe it is my expectations. If QF are a premium airline then maybe I’m expecting too much from them. However I expect similar service from VA and I usually receive it without any dramas. Like most frequent flyers I’ve had my fair share of experiences with VA as well. Usually this relates to things the customer service staff can’t control though – It hasn’t been an issue with their attitude and they’ve usually been obliging and customer focussed – mostly. I can’t say the same about QF.

    To be entirely fair to QF though my experiences with them are a generalisation. I have had some good experiences with them. All I’m saying though is if they’re the premium airline they call themselves, the good experiences should be more consistent. I’m glad they are in your case.

    As another example, I fly fairly frequently with SQ and I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad experience with them. Top class service and consistent, high quality product. QF, or most other airlines probably don’t even come close to their level.

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