The TWU has called for an “urgent meeting” to discuss who will replace Alan Joyce as the CEO of Qantas in advance of an expected announcement of billon-dollar profits this week.
The union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, accused Joyce of decimating the workforce and leaving the airline’s reputation in “tatters”.
On Thursday, Qantas is expected to confirm half-year profits of around $1.45 billion. It came after the Flying Kangaroo on Tuesday said it would invest $100 million in building four new lounges, including creating a new flagship space in London’s Heathrow.
“It will be a difficult task to repair the damage, but it can be done if the next management team abandons the ideological attacks on the workforce and invests in skilled, experienced and highly-trained workers,” said Kaine.
“Qantas customers can’t be bought by airport lounges, and the suggestion that this would repair the damage of total chaos and warfare on workers is frankly insulting to passengers and the public.
“The Qantas board must put the wheels in motion now to put the airline back on track. We’re calling on the board to meet with worker representatives to establish the key criteria for a targeted and effective succession plan.”
The TWU and the national carrier have been at loggerheads for years, with the union arguing Qantas used the “cover of COVID” to make thousands of staff unnecessarily redundant. Qantas has strongly denied the claims, arguing the cuts were necessary to ensure its long-term survival.
Alan Joyce, meanwhile, was appointed Qantas Group chief executive in November 2008 after a five-year spell in charge of Jetstar.
It’s long been rumoured he would depart in the next 18 months after he said in February 2021 that COVID-19 would be his “last crisis” as CEO.
Qantas chairman Richard Goyder told the business’s AGM in 2022 that his CEO would continue until “at least” the end of 2023, and a conversation on his exit wouldn’t happen until “sometime into next year”.
“The board’s very confident that Alan’s developed very capable executives and that we’ve got strong internal succession, and the board of course, will scan externally as well,” he said. “But the board feels very confident that we’re in good shape in terms of CEO succession as and when that is to occur.”
Stephanie Tully, now Jetstar CEO, is widely regarded as the favourite to take the role, and was seemingly rewarded with the Jetstar promotion for navigating a tricky six months of performance issues.
In 2022, Qantas faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easter, hours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy.
“Stephanie has worked across several different parts of the airline, from crewing to marketing, and has a deep understanding of customer experience,” said Joyce in September.
“She’s an outstanding leader, and she’ll be leading a very experienced senior team at Jetstar to keep building on the strengths of that business.”
Qantas’s good financial results come despite the wider group recording an underlying loss before tax of $1.86 billion in its last full-year results and claiming the pandemic cost its airlines $7 billion in total.