Qantas tagline author tells CEO to remove it from all branding, as airline battles multiple PR crises

Qantas-CEO-Alan-Joyce

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce. Source: AAP/Biance De Marchi.

Writer and commentator Phillip Adams has demanded the boss of Qantas remove the national airline’s ‘Spirit of Australia’ tagline from all branding immediately, as multiple crises engulf the company.

The 82-year-old, who had been appointed an officer of the Order of Australia and received six honorary doctorates from Australian universities, made his mark during an illustrious career in film production and advertising, during which time he says he came up with the iconic tagline.

These days Adams shows no sign of slowing down, hosting a program on ABC’s Radio National four nights a week while also writing a weekly column for The Weekend Australian newspaper.

An incensed Adams made the demand on Thursday, addressing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce directly on Twitter:

I’m the author of ‘the spirit of Australia’, Adams wrote. Then deserved, now tragically inappropriate.

My slogan is hereby vetoed. Please remove it from all fuselages, tickets and advertising.

It comes amid a torrid time for the national airline, with the public relations crises stacking up like lost luggage in the wrong terminal.

Qantas cancelled a staggering one in every 13 flights in May as it battled reliability issues. This morning the airline confirmed it was slashing domestic flight schedules by up to 15% through to September, and 10% to March next year.

This week Qantas also apologised to a grieving passenger who was left waiting for bag containing her mother’s ashes for more than four days after flying Heathrow Airport to Sydney, after a hefty social media pile-on.

The passenger’s partner, CEO of Women’s Community Shelters Annabelle Daniel, tweeted that they had received “no responses from your website. Could you help more please?

The tweet was met with an outpouring of support and anger, with author Susan Francis calling it disgusting treatment and calling for shareholders to make noise”.

Last week Qantas forked out another apology after 300 passengers were left stranded at a Dallas airport in the US for 24 hours, with many sleeping on hard flooring while they waited to hear what was was happening. The aircraft was delayed, twice, due to an engineering error, but Qantas staff did not organise accommodation for any passengers.

The problems facing the airline are likely to be exacerbated over the coming weeks, as families attempt to get to holiday destinations during the school holidays. On Friday morning, travellers were told to expect long queues, delayed flights and lost baggage at Melbourne and Brisbane airports.

So where does a besieged national airline go from here?

Jodie Quick, a travel industry expert from Meridian Travel & Cruise, tells SmartCompany the publicity will be extremely damaging for the brand, and Joyce won’t find a lot of support from the industry either.

Call wait times average around 2.5-3 hours at the moment for industry, she says.

Alan Joyce thought this model might be a great idea to try and save money [and] has employed 750 off-shore call centre staff in Fiji who sadly know very little.

On the other hand, general manager of global security services for World Travel Protection Rodger Cook says he has flown 15 flights on Qantas this year along and experienced no disruptions or luggage issues.

Cook pointed out all airlines are struggling with traveller demand, lack of employees due to people changing careers during COVID, and in some jurisdictions, the great resignation has played a part.

But there’s no getting around the fact that Joyce laid off a large chunk of his workforce, some 2000 people, during the pandemic, which the Federal Court has deemed illegal twice (once on appeal). On Friday morning, the company announced it would be handing out a $5000 “one-off boost” to nearly 20,000 employees, in part to make up for the absence of annual wage increases in recent years.

Disputes with ground handling staff have not helped Qantas and other industrial action can not be discounted, Cook says.

Despite the blows, Qantas will survive, Cook says — and its saving grace could be its points system.

We believe Qantas will recover. As a business traveller, their Frequent Flyer program is still providing great rewards and the lounges are full, he says.

Qantas needs to ensure their internal industrial relation issues don’t impact travellers, they need to improve their call centre response times as well as their on-time departure times.

Will Joyce’s time at the top be limited? It is perhaps less certain this morning as Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans has announced he will step down in December and leave the airline in 2023.

Evans was widely assumed to be the logical replacement at Qantas, should the long-time CEO walk away.

COMMENTS

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chris b
chris b
5 days ago

save the airline – sack Joyce

QueenB
QueenB
4 days ago
Reply to  chris b

Finally Sack the CEO

FuQantas
FuQantas
4 days ago

Sack Joyce

Fuqantass
Fuqantass
4 days ago

Sack Joyce, he needs to go!

Marion McMahon
Marion McMahon
4 days ago

I have been a loyal Qantas passenger for many years but they have got to stop putting profits above passengers and pilots and ground staff and baggage handlers. This is not the spirit of Australia. Time for a change!

J Gavey
J Gavey
4 days ago

Joyce seems to think because he is CEO of Qantas, he has become (self elected) Prime Minister of Australia, sack him

Geoff
Geoff
4 days ago

Sack him immediately

Elizabeth Watson
Elizabeth Watson
4 days ago

As a Life Member & Frequent Flyer to Qantas, my forever favoured Airline, I say “Save OUR Aussie Icon, Qantas”! Joyce’s greedy wages are well overpaid for his hapless shoddy work at managing this historical Airline! Share Holders are a greedy bunch too! Staff are treated dismally. No loyalty back to them? Passengers too! Joyce has to walk the plank of Shame! Sack Joyce!

Paul Williams
Paul Williams
4 days ago

I have frequent flyer points but at the moment I have NO LOYALTY towards the brand
QANTAS is NOT the airline it was

Chris Gallivan
Chris Gallivan
11 hours ago
Reply to  Paul Williams

Ive been a loyal customer with QANTAS my whole life
I was a professional pilot for 25 years and I understand alot of the issues causing problems with cancellations and delays however many airlines are falling tragically short on following up with passengers affected by this
It’s a real mess
We will be flying to Bali in December our first flying holiday since Covid hit us
We won’t be flying with Qantas

Annie Oeding
Annie Oeding
4 days ago

I was a very proud QANTAS cabin crew inflight manager for 30 years. Loved my job, my pax, our reputation, our safety contribution. I am now ashamed of the company & how that lil’ pr#@k of a CEO has totally destroyed our wonderful international icon. I’m beyond sad. How dare he accept Govt
support, sack his loyal employees & now try to fill jobs (w no industry experience) & pretend he is running a prestige airline. I am beyond sad.

Damian
Damian
4 days ago

I flew with Qantas first class from London to Sydney and then Bussiness class to Brisbane. I had my computer bag, small carry on bag and a bag containing a new camera I purchased at the airport. The flight to Sydney was great. I tried to board the flight to Brisbane and ended up having a massive argument with staff regarding my carryon luggage, that I had to check one of the bags in, either my computer, my new camera or the bag with my meds, headphones etc. I tried to complain when I got home and they really were not interested in listening to me at all. All of this after being a platinum member for around 15 years. 3 weeks after this I spent 1,000,000 points on things from there Qantas shop and now fly Singapore. They wouldn’t even return my phone calls!!

Captain Rod Hardman
Captain Rod Hardman
4 days ago

Vote with your money – which might be difficult at the moment – whenever, wherever possible use another mode of transport or fly another Airline. Not much choice at the moment but now and in the future, try not to fly with them

Jack Hamilton
Jack Hamilton
4 days ago

Joyce ran a budget low cost airline in Ireland before coming to Qantas, sacking the baggage handlers was a mistake, the chairman Goyder is weak, Phillip Adams putting the boots in, Q is a disgrace.

Last edited 4 days ago by Jack Hamilton
Bianca Graham
Bianca Graham
4 days ago

Can’t wait to see what happens post 01 July when the majority of retail travel agents stop selling Qantas because Qantas have cut their commission to 1% of the airfare component. Call centres are already inundated.

COLIN
COLIN
4 days ago

I Made the Decision back inmid 2020 That I will never travel on Qantas ever again after what they did in relation to refund for my Travel to Watch the Chinese F1 they expect me to Pay up Front 3 moths before I Go then Take 3 Months to refund the Money sorry NO t on Alan Joyce is a Topical Irish worker a Liar & Cheat

Tee
Tee
2 days ago
Reply to  COLIN

I don’t know what your last sentence means, but I hope you didn’t mean to type “typical”.

Mark
Mark
4 days ago

After spending hours on hold with the call centre & then being answered by a South African who had no idea on how to apply a credit onto my account, only to be told i had to call back because they had a different computing system & then encountering the same issue 3 times
Finally calling the Head Office & being reprimanded for the number
Shame on you Alan Joyce

Ross
Ross
4 days ago

Alan Joyce should be shown the door. He is tarnishing Qantas. He is not helping or improving the situation.
Get Rid of him.

Jim Fisher
Jim Fisher
4 days ago

Adams is mad because he was refused entry to the Chairman’s Lounge.

Ossie
Ossie
4 days ago

Omg how on earth does this man get away with it. Share price since he arrived is abysmal. A chimp throwing darts at a list of stocks would easily have done better. Qantas used to be the company everyone was proud of, employees and non-employees alike. Joyce took advantage of Covid to trash his worker base and turn what was once the envy of the Intl airlines into RyanAir 2.0.

Employee morale is so low it is heartbreaking. And it is only going to get worse, much worse, as the sense of love for the company they work is dead. In the past staff would go out of their way to make sure things went as smoothly as possible if there was a glitch, because they loved Qantas. Now most staff feel abused and have no interest at all in going the extra mile to make sure Joyce gets his bonuses. The only solution is get rid of him and replace him with someone who actually does get what The Spirit of Australia means.

Last edited 4 days ago by Ossie
Susan Wanmer
Susan Wanmer
3 days ago

If people think a Business is not a ‘Brand’ this article illustrates superbly (but painfully) how consumers trust the BRAND. Or lose trust in this case.

From the QANTAS brand perspective they are reeling from the impacts of the pandemic etc. However – like all relationships – the customer does not care.

Communication, care of needs, show of customercentric actions are needed consistently to mend and improve damaged relationships here.

Not justification of the company actions to defend itself.

Harsh? Maybe. But a company needs to personalise itself in this day and age and upgrade its understanding of service. It needs to ‘upmanage’ or internalise its pain, rather than sharing its justifications with consumers.

Why? Because consumers are powerless in the commercial relationship. Other than choosing to leave by voting with their feet.

Tim
Tim
3 days ago

Joyce really should have looked inward before calling customers ‘not match fit’.

Richard
Richard
3 days ago

Inflexible Qantas fare rules require me to fly Cairns to Sydney via an overnight in Perth or suffer a $2000 penalty. Not sure where that equates to “fly flexible”.

Mick
Mick
3 days ago

How much did the government pay to Qantas they forget about that

Wayne b
Wayne b
3 days ago

Mr Cook, I have respect for you and your position, but I’d like to say from a person that looks after your safety, there is a higher percentage leaving due to workplace conditions and pay than actual covid.

Aue
Aue
3 days ago

You didn’t mention that they are discrimination against passengers on international routes, company policy that other airlines have not employed

Anon
Anon
3 days ago

Joyce is a nasty little leprechaun and only interested in his bonuses. Usual call times exceed 5 hours. Just wait until 01 July when travel agents get paid $0 to sell QF and will be pushing the business back on them. The times will blow out even further. Good luck Alan, you’ve had a year to prepare, I hope you’re ready!!!

Pauline
Pauline
3 days ago

Qantas a DISGRACE. KILLED a major trip for pensioners, NEVER REPLIED to 2 emails for assistance, been TOTALLY RIPPED OFF

Patrick O'Bryan
Patrick O'Bryan
3 days ago

What happened to the refund vouchers, took me weeks to get a a new booking for the covid cancellation, lost over 70%!

brettwiley
brettwiley
3 days ago

Joyce should have gone a long time ago..

Brian Dempsey
Brian Dempsey
3 days ago

I strongly believe that the airline should be paying back the money it received from taxpayers. It is a disgrace

Jamie
Jamie
3 days ago

Alan Joyce is a flea of a person: get rid of him and things will begin to recover. Alan you reap what you sow. And you sowed alot of very ordinary seeds way before the pandemic. Time for you to pay the bill. Also why have we the people paid for your airline to stay afloat but more
And more your not employing Australian workers?

Mandy Kelly
Mandy Kelly
3 days ago

Why is more not being made of the vast sums of money owed to customers in refunds. I, for one, will never fly Qantas again.

Alistair
Alistair
1 day ago
Reply to  Mandy Kelly

Agreed – I am owed $2400 for 2 trips that were changed – I have to use the “voucher” before Feb 2023. Not possible with my work. How do they get away with this? I HAVE to book a trip of equal or greater price – can not use it on several fares to make up. Total rip-off

Evan Shannon
Evan Shannon
3 days ago

Flew from Townsville to Sydney via a Brisbane stopover on Saturday 25th. Late leaving Townsville so had only 15min between flights.
20 passengers had connecting flights and the stewards organised for us to go to the front of the plane on landing in Brisbane.
We made it.
Well done Qantas staff.

John wilson
John wilson
3 days ago

Just another JOYCE suffup look at his past record

David P
David P
3 days ago

This wanker has to go. Not only is he responsible for wrecking an airline he had wrecked many people lives with her cost cutting outsourcing measures. Shareholders need to get rid of this grub!!!

Nicole
Nicole
3 days ago

Waited 5 days for bags. Had to file 2 lost baggie claims because the first one was never entered into the system. 1 staff member was trying to deal with a queue of 30 people. Bags arrived 5 days later – website didn’t work so could not track the bag, no one in Sydney or Cooloongatta would answer the phone.

Gwen
Gwen
2 days ago

Still waiting for my refund for cancelled flights during Covid…Alan Joyce doesn’t seem to care about his staff or customers ….

amina b
amina b
2 days ago

I’ve just changed to Virgin for a domestic flight having had Jetstar cancel my flight for later this week. Never again will I fly with.Qantas or Jetstar.

Trish
Trish
2 days ago
Reply to  amina b

Virgin overbooked our flight Melbourne to Sunshine Coast, staff apologised we couldn’t sit together. As we walk to gate lounge flight was cancelled. Said we were re booked for Thursday! Who pays for accomodation, meals etc? Won’t fly in future, will drive….they can’t cancel that lol

Paul R
Paul R
2 days ago

As long as Joyce is in charge I won’t fly Qantas again. He has trashed an Aussie icon.

A Yamak
A Yamak
2 days ago

Bring back the call centre in-house immediately. Bring back aircraft maintenance from off shore. Loyal passengers MUST be your number one priority regardless whether they have flown for the first time or are long term customers.

Kim
Kim
2 days ago

Here’s the thing. I booked a multi city trip back in early 2020. And I only just yesterday was issued an e-ticket credit. But here’s the kicker, I spent 8 hours on hold over four attempts to speak to someone back in March. The line would hang up at 2 hours of waiting everytime. And since the pandemic my Mom has broken several bones and failing health. In the end she had to buy me a new ticket to get home to her. And now I will not be granted two bags as included in 2020. I will have to pay over 100 dollars for my second one unless I get to a silver rating. Pift is all I can say to that. Oh and they lost both of my bags last week. Someone in LA typed in the wrong bag tag numbers. And though I love Qantas planes and the air staff are great I doubt I will use them again after this last trip I still need to book before December. Ugh

Matt
Matt
2 days ago

As a business traveller, their Frequent Flyer program is still providing great rewards..” Completely and utterly incorrect. There’s myriad posts and threads full of complaints regarding lack of reward seats in QF’s FF program.

adw
adw
2 days ago

Where and why is Gareth Evans going ? Perhaps to Virgin as No. 2 with a succession plan on offer ?

Alex
Alex
2 days ago

Re-nationalise QANTAS

Anil
Anil
1 day ago

Worst Airlines run by those who need to go back to working at MacDonald to learn some basic customer service. I flew overseas and they couldn’t provide any food as their supplier didn’t provide enough for the flight. The flight was dirty very cramped and unprofessional crew. Never again !

Anil
Anil
1 day ago

Absolutely disgraceful. Qantas never again. From a Top Airlines to bottom of the ladder !

Freetolive
Freetolive
1 day ago

Discriminating against people for their medical choices. I will never fly with them again.

Michelle
Michelle
1 day ago

The unjabbed in NZ and Australia are boycotting this airline in favour of ones that will let them fly. Rest assured that the prejudice will not be forgotten for future travel.

Deb m
Deb m
1 day ago

Joyce should have been sacked a long time ago
His treatment of staff during the pandemic while
Keeping the government handouts
Regional flights cancelled everyother day
While he lives like a king and isnt shy in letting the public know he doesn’t give a dam

Qantas member
Qantas member
1 day ago

Agree, Save the airline by sacking Joyce. He has trashed it year by year

Deidre Cook
Deidre Cook
22 hours ago

Who deserves that ridiculous salary then offer a pittance to his employees. No regard for the passengers at all just shareholders, well I hope they have consciences. Down with Joyce…goodbye!!

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