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Ex-Telstra chairman replaces Goyder at Qantas

written by Adam Thorn | February 21, 2024

Qantas has appointed a former long-serving chairman of Telstra to replace Richard Goyder in the same role at the Flying Kangaroo.

John Mullen will join the board from 1 July 2024 and has previously held directorships at Macquarie Airports and Toll Holdings.

It comes after incumbent Goyder bowed to public pressure to announce he would stand down in October, while Alan Joyce also left as CEO earlier than expected. The exits followed the ACCC announcing they were to take Qantas to court to accuse them of selling tickets to flights that were already cancelled.

Mullens will likely be seen as an experienced and safe pair of hands to steer the company through a difficult upcoming 12 months.

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In a statement on the ASX on Wednesday, Mullen, currently the chairman of both Treasury Wine Estates and Brambles, said he would be adjusting his other professional obligations to ensure he could be “fully focussed on this exciting challenge”.

“It’s an extraordinary privilege to take up the chairmanship of the national carrier,” he said. “It is a company that I have admired all my life, and I am greatly looking forward to helping Vanessa and the management team take the company to new heights of service and performance excellence.

“Qantas has consistently featured as one of the world’s very best airlines, and now that the pandemic is behind us and the airline industry gets back closer to normal, I have every confidence that Qantas will continue to excel. I am honoured to become a part of this journey.”

The news significantly comes a day before Qantas is set to announce its half-year financial results, while his appointment will also need to be put to shareholders at the airline’s AGM later this year.

Alongside Mullen, the airline also revealed Dr Nora Scheinkestel will also join the Board from 1 March 2024 as a non-executive director and chair of its remuneration committee.

Outgoing chairman Goyder said, “John brings a wealth of experience as a director and chairman of similarly large and complex companies to Qantas, as well as great depth from his long executive career in the transport sector both here and overseas. He is the right choice to lead the national carrier into its next phase.

“Nora is one of the most seasoned company directors in the country, with more than 25 years’ experience on numerous boards across leading utilities, finance and logistics firms, as well as her deep knowledge of regulatory matters.”

The new appointments follow the retirement of long-serving directors Maxine Brenner and Jacqueline Hey, who will step down after the company’s half-year results tomorrow.

“On behalf of their fellow Board members, I’d like to recognise the huge contribution that Maxine and Jacquie have both made during their 10 years on the Qantas Board, particularly during the unprecedented challenges we faced during the pandemic and in restarting the airline,” added Goyder.

“It’s an honour to serve on the Qantas Board. The company’s history and purpose make it unique in corporate Australia, and so does the incredible passion of everyone who is part of it. There’s still much work to do, but it is an amazing company with a bright future.”

The new chairman will have to helm the company as the ACCC takes the Flying Kangaroo to court over allegations it sold more than 8,000 tickets to flights it had already cancelled and calling for a $250 million fine.

In its response, Qantas later argued the case ignored the “fundamental reality” of flight schedules and said it was “impossible” for any airline to guarantee a service will operate at its scheduled time.

Instead, it said airlines aim to get customers to their destinations as quickly as possible.

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