AIPA Statement Regarding the Qantas Chairman
25/09/2023 | Author: Captain Tony Lucas, AIPA President
AIPA Statement Regarding the Qantas Chairman - A failure of leadership?
As airline pilots, it is vital we take a measured approach to our decision making. We gather all the available information and assess our options prior to adopting a course of action.
The reputational damage that has been inflicted on this once loved airline is almost too hard to believe. The High Court confirmed that Qantas’ decision to outsource airport ground handling was unlawful. Qantas faces up to $200 million in compensation and penalties for illegally outsourcing 1700 baggage handlers. Additionally, the ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb has suggested Qantas should be fined more than $250 million if it’s found guilty of selling tickets for cancelled flights. All of this has required us to carefully assess the factors involved and what is required to repair the damage to Qantas.
Whilst the past cannot be changed, it will take time to restore Qantas to the level that can make all Australians proud. AIPA intends on working towards a constructive relationship with the new management team, led by CEO Ms. Vanessa Hudson, and trust that she understands that respecting and valuing your staff – through not just words but also actions –is the key to leveraging the amazing asset that is the staff of Qantas and rebuilding the airline’s reputation.
As pilots in multi-crew aeroplanes, we also understand the importance of speaking up when something is not going as it should. For example, pointing out to fellow crew that things are heading in a direction that is unsafe.
The Board’s Chairman, Mr Richard Goyder has overseen what may well be one of the most damaging periods in Qantas’ history. It has included the illegal sacking of 1,700 workers which the Chairman continues to try and justify as a “sound commercial decision”. It has included the investigation and charges about allegedly marketing and selling tickets on already cancelled services. It has included some objectionable behaviour relating to Covid credits, flight changes, call waiting times, baggage handling in general amongst other issues. And now, finally, a decision by the Board to grant themselves a combined pay increase of approximately 21% in the last financial year- on top of generally significant pay rises in the previous years (see Qantas graph copied HERE).
The airline is currently suffering reputational damage courtesy of the decisions of the Board. For Mr Goyder and his fellow directors to accept any increase to their already generous remuneration – while simultaneously demanding the need for Qantas staff (including pilots) to take a two (2) year pay freeze – doesn’t pass the pub test.
It is a tone-deaf act that demonstrates the Qantas Board are not living up to their part of Qantas’ values or the values the travelling public expect from the Spirit of Australia. It demonstrates how out of touch the Board is with the frontline staff, the very people who will be needed to restore Qantas to its former glory. It is a failure of leadership to not be willing to do something that you have asked your team to do. To be blunt, it is un-Australian.
The decision is certainly provocative. But more importantly, what it indicates to pilots, is that the reform and change that Qantas so desperately needs cannot come under this Chairman. You have to ask yourself, where is the line?
Shouldn’t the chair, Mr Goyder, and the other Qantas directors take responsibility for what has happened under their watch?
It is AIPA’s belief, as the representative of over 2000 Qantas Group pilots, that our members have lost faith in the Chairman of the Board. It is with this in mind that we are taking the unprecedented stance that Mr Goyder’s position as Chairman of the Qantas Board is now untenable, and he should resign.
AIPA will continue to engage with Qantas management including CEO Ms Hudson in good faith. We seek a constructive relationship with Qantas that will deliver win/win outcomes for both the airline and its dedicated staff. The Company needs to change the way it does business, and they must have the grace to listen to the pilot cohort who are committed to being part of the solution. I’ve communicated AIPA’s commitment with the CEO and her direct reports previously. I will be sharing this opinion with her today as well.
I want you to know the leadership team at AIPA have not reached this position lightly. But if pilots can help bring on the change Qantas needs right now, I believe we have a responsibility to speak up – and to do so loudly and clearly.