Alan Joyce, the long-serving CEO of Qantas Airways, has stepped down amid a wave of controversies, months before his planned retirement in November. However, what has garnered even more attention is the $24 million payout he will receive as part of his exit package. This additional sum comes on top of his already impressive financial portfolio, which saw him earn a record-breaking $23.9 million in 2018.
The generous nature of Joyce’s golden handshake is raising eyebrows, particularly considering the challenges currently facing Qantas. The airline recently announced a controversial $2.5 billion profit, despite receiving $2.7 billion in government Covid assistance. This has led to accusations that the payout is excessive and unjustifiable.
Labor senator and former union boss Tony Sheldon has been one of the detractors, stating, “If the Board allows Mr. Joyce to walk away with $24 million…it will be the swindle of the century.” Sheldon has also accused Joyce of leaving behind a legacy of “low pay, insecure work, illegal sackings, and consumer rip-offs.”
Joyce himself has defended his payout, stating, “The best thing I can do under these circumstances is to bring forward my retirement and hand over to Vanessa Hudson and the new management team now, knowing they will do an excellent job.” Hudson will assume the role of CEO starting this Wednesday.
In addition to the payout controversy, Qantas is currently facing legal actions from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding allegations of selling tickets on 8,000 “ghost flights.” Furthermore, the airline is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit by customers who experienced flight cancellations.
The airline’s share price has also taken a hit, dropping to $5.65, a significant contrast to the $6.75 per share when Joyce sold over 80% of his shares in June. Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas has commented on Joyce’s departure, stating, “I think it was time for Alan to move on,” alluding to the controversies that have surrounded Joyce during his tenure. Despite the difficulties faced by the airline, Joyce remains optimistic, stating that Qantas “has a bright future.”
The timing and size of Joyce’s payout have sparked public debate, especially in light of his already substantial earnings and the various controversies currently surrounding the airline. Critics argue that the size of the payout is disproportionate to the current challenges faced by Qantas and raises questions about executive compensation in the aviation industry.
As Vanessa Hudson takes the reins as CEO, she faces the task of steering Qantas through these turbulent times and regaining the trust of customers and stakeholders. The focus now shifts to how the airline will address the ongoing legal actions and the broader issues raised by Joyce’s controversial exit package. Only time will tell if Qantas can overcome these challenges and truly secure a bright future.