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Qantas appoints new CEO Vanessa Hudson following early retirement of Alan Joyce

Qantas (ASX:QAN) announced on Tuesday morning that Vanessa Hudson will take over as the new CEO, effective from Wednesday, after current CEO Alan Joyce decided to hasten his retirement by two months.

The unexpected announcement comes after days of criticism directed at the company, its airlines, and Joyce himself, due to a range of issues. The most prominent among these was the recent action taken by the ACCC against Qantas, accusing the company of selling tickets for flights it knew had been canceled in 2022. The ACCC is seeking penalties of up to $250 million in the Federal Court action.

In the announcement on Tuesday, Joyce stated, “Recent events and scrutiny have underscored the need for Qantas to prioritize its renewal. Given the circumstances, expediting my retirement and handing over to Vanessa and the new management team is the best course of action. I am confident they will excel.”

“Throughout my 22 years at Qantas, including my 15-year tenure as CEO, I take pride in the journey we’ve undertaken. There have been challenges and successes, and though there is work ahead, especially in consistently serving our customers, I depart knowing Qantas is resilient and has a promising future,” Mr. Joyce remarked.

Qantas Chair Richard Goyder, also in the same statement, commented, “Alan has consistently placed Qantas’ best interests at the forefront, as evidenced by today’s decision. On behalf of the Board, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for his leadership in navigating significant challenges and his forward-thinking approach, such as exploring opportunities in ultra long-haul travel.”

“This transition arrives during a challenging phase for Qantas and its workforce. Our paramount objective is to rebuild public confidence in the company’s values. The Board’s focus aligns with this goal, supported by Vanessa’s capable leadership,” Mr. Goyder added.

As initially planned, shareholders will officially vote on Vanessa Hudson’s appointment as Managing Director during Qantas’ Annual General Meeting in November.

The company’s announcement also signals the accelerated appointment of Rob Marcolina as the Group’s Chief Financial Officer, aligning with the current CFO Vanessa Hudson’s transition into the Group CEO role.

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