Qantas chairman Richard Goyder.
Pilots say chairman Richard Goyder has overseen one of the most damaging periods in Qantas history. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS
  • air transport

Pilots join calls for Qantas chairman to step down

Alex Mitchell September 25, 2023

Qantas pilots have joined calls for the airline’s chairman to resign after a series of “woeful” decisions that have smashed workforce morale and customer trust.

The Australian and International Pilots Association has written to the Qantas chief executive to explain its “unprecedented intervention”.

“Richard Goyder has overseen one of the most damaging periods in Qantas history which has included the illegal sacking of 1700 workers, allegations of illegally marketing cancelled flights and a terribly managed return to operations after COVID-19,” the association’s Tony Lucas said.

“The morale of Qantas pilots has never been lower. We have totally lost confidence in Goyder and his board.”

Despite overseeing the destruction of the Qantas brand, the chairman accepted a recent pay rise while airline staff were expected to cop a wage freeze, Mr Lucas said.

“Qantas is more than just an airline – it is a symbol of national pride and trust,” he said.

“It needs leadership from a board that understands the value of its employees, respects its customers and can win back the trust of the nation.”

Qantas announced on Monday it would spend an extra $80 million on customer improvements, adding to the previously budgeted $150 million.

“This additional investment is aimed at addressing a number of customer ‘pain points’,” the airline said, including better contact centre resourcing and training, and an increase in the number of seats that can be redeemed with Frequent Flyer points.

More generous recovery support when operational issues arise, a review of longstanding policies for fairness, and improvements to the quality of in-flight catering are also among the planned improvements, it said.

Labor senator Tony Sheldon, who has spearheaded the government’s response to the Qantas crisis, said he was unimpressed and renewed his call for the chairman to resign.

“Qantas keep making announcements and apologies, but actions speak louder than words and we still aren’t seeing appropriate actions,” he told AAP.

Qantas profits are set to take another hit as fuel prices continue to rise.

The airline will spend $2.8 billion on fuel in the back half of 2023 – an increase of about $200 million – after a 30 per cent price spike since May.

“The group will continue to absorb these higher costs, but will monitor fuel prices in the weeks ahead and, if current levels are sustained, will look to adjust its settings,” Qantas said in a statement.

Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said it was unfair for customers to bear the costs.

“Ticket prices have increased 32 per cent on pre-COVID levels while experienced workers have been forced from the industry and service standards have plummeted,” he said.

“An eye-watering $2.5 billion record pre-tax profit shows it is not disappointed customers that should be copping higher fares but the airline that wants us to believe it is ready to change its ways.”

Qantas shares fell 1.5 per cent to a one-year low of $5.23 on Monday.