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New Qantas chairman will now start on Monday

written by Adam Thorn | April 19, 2024

Qantas’ next chairman, John Mullen, will start his new role on Monday, 10 weeks earlier than his planned start date of 1 July.

It comes as incumbent Richard Goyder faces pressure at energy giant Woodside, where he is also chairman, and as the Flying Kangaroo faces a series of major challenges posed by conflict in the Middle East.

Mullen, a former long-serving chairman of Telstra, will begin his tenure as “chairman-elect” until he can be formally voted in by shareholders at the airline’s next AGM in October.

In a statement on the ASX on Friday, Qantas said the new chairman “expects to reduce his existing professional commitments over time”, referring to his being chairman of Treasury Wine Estates and Brambles.


“It’s an extraordinary privilege to take up the chairmanship of the national carrier,” Mullen said in February.

“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.”

Mullen’s appointment was surprisingly praised by the Transport Workers’ Union, which hailed his “earnest determination” and “open door approach” to negotiating with workers.

The union, which has had a volatile relationship with the national carrier for more than a decade, said replacing Richard Goyder with John Mullen offered workers a “glimmer of hope”.

“This is the first sign we’ve had that Qantas has finally recognised the task ahead requires a seismic shift in culture, leadership and approach to unionised workers,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

It comes after Australian Aviation reported last week how Qantas would be forced to pause non-stop flights between Perth and London amid concerns Iran could launch an imminent attack on Israel, which subsequently took place.

The QF9 service – one of the world’s longest – will now stop over in Singapore because the 787’s range isn’t long enough to divert around the Middle East.

The change, which won’t apply to return service QF10, has the potential to affect the Flying Kangaroo’s restart of flights from Perth to Rome and the launch of a new route between Perth and Paris in July.

Qantas said on Saturday morning, “We’re temporarily adjusting the flight paths for our flights between Perth and London due to the situation in parts of the Middle East.”

“We’ll reach out to customers directly if there’s any change to their booking.”

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