Vanessa Hudson has made her first major public appearance since becoming Qantas CEO to apologise for the airline’s recent missteps and performance issues.
Hudson admitted in a video message, which you can view below, that the Flying Kangaroo had not delivered and pledged to overhaul customer policies.
It follows criticism that the former CFO, who took the top job after the early exit of Alan Joyce, had kept too low a profile in recent weeks.
“I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that, I am sorry,” she said. “We’ve often been hard to deal with. We understand why you’re frustrated, and why some of you have lost trust in us.
“I know that our people have tried their absolute best under very difficult circumstances. I want you to know that we’re determined to fix it to improve the experience for you and to support our people better.
“We want to get back to the national carrier that Australians can be proud of. That’s known for going above and beyond. We understand we need to earn your trust back, not with what we say but what we do and how we behave.”
Hudson asked for customers’ patience, saying the “work is already underway” to improve the Qantas experience for passengers.
“We’re putting more people in our call centres to help solve problems faster. We’re adding more frequent flyer seats. We’re reviewing all of our customer policies to make sure they’re fair,” she said.
“And we’re giving our frontline teams more flexibility to better help you when things don’t go to plan. That’s only the start.
“This has been a humbling period, but through it, I share the pride and passion that I know our people have for Qantas and this gives me the confidence that we will rebuild your trust. Thank you for your support.”
Hudson’s apology comes weeks after former CEO Alan Joyce exited the top job two months early following a string of bad headlines, including the ACCC taking the Flying Kangaroo to court over allegations it had sold more than 8,000 tickets to flights it had already cancelled, and calling for a $250 million fine.
Following Joyce’s exit, Qantas suffered another blow when the High Court unanimously dismissed an appeal over the sacking of 1,683 ground workers during the pandemic in breach of the Fair Work Act 2009, a move for which Hudson has indicated she would be willing to apologise personally to the workers.
Chairman Richard Goyder also issued a mea culpa on behalf of Qantas in the group’s annual report, with senior executive bonuses slashed by 20 per cent and withheld until the ACCC’s court action is resolved.