Qantas’ reputation is trashed and its customers are suffering. Why is Alan Joyce getting away with it?

Qantas-CEO-Alan-Joyce

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

Can Qantas trash its reputation any faster than it has been in recent months? Having spent most of the pandemic clamouring to be allowed to begin operating again, Alan Joyce’s airline returned to the skies unable to provide the most basic services consistently — on-time flights (or simply flights that aren’t cancelled), efficient processing of passengers, peak-demand management, customer service, baggage arriving at the same destination (or not disappearing into some void from which nothing ever returns).

Throughout this period, Joyce and his team have blamed everyone else. First it was passengers who were not “match fit”. Then it was airports that were to blame for not having enough staff. Then it was the labour market and shortages of workers — after Qantas had illegally sacked thousands of baggage handlers during the pandemic.

Joyce, it seems, always has an excuse for why a once-great airline is now regarded as a social media joke and barely worthy of the description “full service”.

The abiding theme of Joyce’s management of the decline of Qantas is his passionate loathing of his workforce. This is the man who shut the entire airline down in 2011 rather than deal with engineers, pilots and transport workers and their unions, who used the pandemic to sack 6000 workers, on top of another 7000 workers also sacked under Joyce.

The loss of Qantas staff has tracked its decline from a respected airline to the butt of jokes.

The fact that it now doesn’t have enough staff to answer phones, crew to fly planes, or workers for its outsourced baggage-handling operation is all completely on Joyce and his attitude of belligerent grievance toward the people who make the airline run day after day.

What’s fascinating is that Joyce has been able to get away with it. He is still taken seriously in the media, especially the business media that adores his hatred of workers, and is allowed to opine on all manner of subjects — most recently energy (Peter Dutton famously upbraided him in 2017 for not “sticking to his knitting” on marriage equality).

Yesterday, as travellers around the country and around the world waited for delayed or cancelled flights, wondered where their baggage had gone, and wasted time waiting to talk to a human on the phone, Joyce was at it again, spruiking biofuels.

There’s an interesting question here about whether Joyce would have gotten away with trashing Qantas if he wasn’t a white male.

What if a female CEO had shut down an entire airline in a fit of pique because she had to negotiate with unions? Or illegally sacked hundreds of workers, outsourced baggage handling and then lamented that there weren’t enough workers? Or was in charge of an airline with a rapidly deteriorating on-time performance?

The fate of some other senior female business figures is instructive. While Qantas has been privately owned for decades and thus suffers no overt political interference, the highly successful Christine Holgate was driven out of Australia Post for trivial “offences” around bonuses, and abused in Parliament by the prime minister.

Raelene Castle was forced out of Rugby Australia after a long-term campaign of criticism by opponents as the code faced major structural challenges — challenges it is still struggling with nearly two years on. AMP chair Catherine Brenner took the fall for the revelation of AMP’s rotten culture. At Qantas-rival Virgin (which Joyce campaigned against a bailout for, despite enjoying one himself), Jayne Hrdlicka has been the target of vague allegations of “bullying”.

In contrast, Joyce presides over the decline of an iconic company with apparent impunity, the next excuse ever at the ready, the next round of job cuts being prepared for the delight of sharemarkets and The Australian Financial Review. It’s an airline run not for customers stuck with an aviation duopoly, and certainly not for the country, but for shareholders.

This article was first published by Crikey.

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Wayne
Wayne
11 days ago

Wow, one of the most bias articles I’ve read in a long time! A lot of assumptions made, short on any real detail, and grab lines being spouted as facts, really. How about doing an interview with Mr Joyce and giving us the other side of the story. Could not believe the race card got played, then the gender card came out, this article needs a red card!

James Wright
James Wright
10 days ago
Reply to  Wayne

Honestly Wayne, as an employee of Qantas, the article is bang on. The fact you are quick to want to “Red Card” and censor it is a bit troubling, but sadly typical of the ‘offense’ culture of these times. I haven’t a clue as to how Mr. Joyce has been able to keep his job after the disaster that is the current operating condition of Qantas, with sacking the ground staff and blaming everyone else for flights that arrive with no bags, hours late, or not at all. I highly doubt Alan would give an interview to anyone who would give other than a favourable light to his side, the employees are sick of it, but it seems there is little we can do but carry on.

Colin Burwood
Colin Burwood
11 days ago
Reply to  Wayne

Thanks Alan

Cary Connolly
Cary Connolly
11 days ago
Reply to  Wayne

He’s had plenty of time to do an interview but all he does is blame others through the ever obliging media friends.

Derek Rollins
Derek Rollins
11 days ago
Reply to  Wayne

Wayne I happen to agree with most printed above. I have been trying to book an international flight for weeks now, and needed some advice from Qantas, so I rang Qantas Frequent flyer, after waiting on phone around five hours I got through only to be cut off alter two minutes. Next day I tried again this time about three hours, asked my question after about three minutes they came back ,sorry our computers are down ,we will ring you back. Next day they rang back, but could not help as they said we don’t know how to do Points and pay. I then wrote a letter to every Qantas Director including the C.E.O. by post and email telling them of my dreadful experience, to date four weeks later not one reply. I now think that they simply don’t give a demand, I feel their whole points promotions are the biggest cooperate crime ever and needs to be investigated by incoming government. This is fair to say, only my opinion!

Locky
Locky
6 days ago
Reply to  Derek Rollins

Dereck judging from what he has written Wayne appears to be either a shareholder or employee trying to hold on to his job.
Clearly he has not experienced the removal of his Qantas flying status something other One World Airlines did not do, or had his calls to Qantas answered in Indonesia by a young mother with a crying baby in the background who typed your enquiry into the computer and only was capable of giving the generated reply and repeating it only, she also refused repeatedly requests for a supervisor saying no one was available and eventually hung up on us.
This scene was repeated 3 times before we gave up. After noticing an ad by the RAA travel centre and were rewarded with a trip that saved us $3400 over the best price that Qantas offered ON LINE for Frequent Flyers plus the insurance policy required by the USA.
Going by Mr Joyce’s actions to date he is rapidly becoming the Best Free Advertising for the Star Alliance and they are not even paying for it.
The Qantas Board need to remove him As Soon As Possible before he destroys a Great Australian Company. We want to return to Qantas but at present genuinely cannot afford to.

Steve
Steve
11 days ago

Go woke go broke.

The Disturbed One
The Disturbed One
7 days ago

Joyce is definitely getting away with trashing Qantas because he is a white male.

The unfortunate truth about corporate Australia is that white males like cats have 9 or more lives and for them it is like a game in easy mode.

For non whites and for females the corporate game is in hard mode by default.

alan zamp
alan zamp
5 days ago

Joyce should have been sacked when he mandated vaccinations……..current crumbling of many businesses, not just Qantas, started with the panicked response to the covid outbreak and top dogs scrambling to cover their butts with mandating and unproven jab……..we watch now as the economy (and Qantas) tries to make up for a unjustified decisions.

Frustrated with our flagship
Frustrated with our flagship
5 days ago

When a CEO purchases a multimillion dollar home on the Sydney waterfront whilst the company they run is in demise it shows the lack of empathy and respect for those whom they employ and the Customers they serve.
Some years ago I flew from Sydney to Dallas and the cabin crew then were not happy with management.
It’s time for Qantas to think of the customer first, with that will come respect and greater cash flow.
As the old saying goes ‘A new broom sweeps clean’

grace
grace
2 days ago

Nicely put.. about the broom especially.

Hans
Hans
4 days ago

I have a very serious complaint.
Earlier this month my wife and I booked a flight with Qantas for travel from Adelaide to the USA. We chose to pay by Bpay and were emailed the Bpay details by Qantas.
Because our daily limit is restricted to $5k, we went to our bank the same day and had them conduct the Bpay. It was successfully done. ( I stress it was the SAME day).
Today we received an email from Qantas to say that the payment was not received and our booking has lapsed.
We contacted customer support and were told the same. We have proof it was in fact paid.
Then after claiming our payment wasn’t made they informed us we would receive the refund in 72hrs!!
We have lost what was a really good travel deal and are still waiting for our refund!
What can we do?

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