Outsider could replace Joyce at Qantas, Australian Aviation chairman hints

The race among Qantas executives to succeed CEO Alan Joyce could be won by an outside candidate, the chairman has hinted.

Richard Goyder told the company’s AGM that the airline’s longtime chief would continue until “at least” the end of 2023, with talks about his exit not taking place until “sometime next year”.

“The board is very confident that Alan has developed very capable leaders and that we have strong internal succession and the board will of course review externally as well,” he said. “But the board is very confident that we are in good shape regarding the CEO succession as and when it takes place.”

Joyce was appointed chief executive of Qantas in November 2008 after five years as head of Jetstar.

He was long rumored to be leaving in the next 18 months after saying in February last year that COVID would be his “last crisis” as CEO.

Joyce has won praise and criticism for recently overseeing a remarkable turnaround that will see the company target underlying pre-tax earnings of up to $1.3 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year.

The result comes even as the broader group reported an underlying pre-tax loss of $1.86 billion in its most recent full-year results and claimed the pandemic cost its airlines a total of $7 billion.

One of the favorites for the top job is Stephanie Tully, who is soon set to take over as Jetstar boss.

The former Qantas Chief Customer Officer has apparently been rewarded with a promotion for coping with performance issues for six months.

In 2022, Qantas faced a host of problems, including huge Easter delays, hours of waiting for calls and even the revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 had to sleep in multiple seats in economy class.

“Stephanie has worked in various areas of the airline, from crew to marketing, and has a deep understanding of the customer experience,” Joyce said in September.

“She is an outstanding leader and will lead a highly experienced senior team at Jetstar to continue building on the strengths of this company.”

The current role of Chief Account includes responsibility for “all aspects of customer experience and strategy across the group, including digital customer products such as lounges and inflight experiences, as well as customer care operations.”

Tully also oversees marketing and sponsorship for the Qantas brand.

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