Qantas Upgrades Internally for New Head Pilot

Qantas has gone in-house for a new CEO, announcing that Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson will replace outgoing head Alan Joyce in November.

Hudson has worked in a number of executive positions in the group over the past 28 years, including chief customer officer and senior vice president for Qantas across the Americas and New Zealand.

She will continue in her current role before taking the reins from Joyce in November.

She will become the first female and the 13th CEO for the airline following the carrier’s 2023 annual general meeting.

That didn’t go down well with investors who sold off the shares by nearly 3% to $6.54.

In announcing the appointment, Qantas chairman Richard Goyder said the appointment would lead to a smooth transition between Joyce and Hudson, who have worked closely together for more than 10 years.

“Vanessa has a deep understanding of this business after almost three decades in a range of roles both onshore and offshore, across commercial, customer and finance,” Goyder said.

He also explained Ms Hudson helped shape the airline’s strategy over the past five years describing her handling of the finance and treasury portfolio during the Covid crisis as “outstanding”.

“She also led the fleet selection process in 2022 for the renewal of our domestic jet aircraft over the next decade,” Mr Goyder added.

In a statement, Mr Joyce said “it’s a logical time for me to step down”.

“At the Board’s request, I extended my time as CEO to see through the Covid recovery plan, so now that we’re on the other side of that crisis it’s a logical time for me to step down,” Mr Joyce said.

“There’s still a lot I want to deliver in the next six months and at the top of that list is ensuring a smooth handover to Vanessa, who I’m sure will excel in the role.”

Ms Hudson said she is “absolutely honoured” to be asked to lead the national carrier.

“This is an exceptional company full of incredibly talented people and it’s very well positioned for the future,” she said in Tuesday’s statement.

In February, Qantas reported a record underlying pre-tax profit of $1.43 billion for the first six months of its 2022-23 financial year after a underling loss of $1.277 billion for the first half of the 2021-22 financial year

Mr Goyder added that the outgoing CEO has done a “superb job” of leading a team that is “absolutely committed” to the national carrier’s long-term success.

An announcement on a new chief financial officer will be made in the near future.


Her appointment and the fact that Joyce is remaining until November means he will be around to sweep up all the accolades for what will be a record annual profit for 2022-23.

And he will strongly influence the 2023-24 result, meaning that Ms Hudson will not leave a mark on a full year result until 2024-25.

Here task will be to repair the significant damage to Qantas’ brand loyalty from the past year or so (and from the flight credit debacle which continues) as Qantas under Joyce cut capacity, pushed up fares, oversaw terrible staff relations, under staffing at critical holiday periods in 2022, the loss of thousands of bits of baggage, ruined trips and flight cancellations seemingly at a whim.

Joyce has apologised, tried to soften the blow to staff confidence with special payments and offered cheap fares to customers. But while domestic fares are trending lower, international fares remain too high for the comfort of many passengers.

Investors and shareholders have been happy – the Qantas share price is well above $6 and there have been a couple of buybacks to keep shareholders happy and quiet.

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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