Three of the airline industry’s most respected executives have voiced their support for Qantas CEO Alan Joyce as he faces union campaigns for higher pay.
In Australia, Mr Joyce has also become the focal point of blame for airline disruptions and cancellations, although the situation is global and affects every major airline in the world.
The unions have been calling for Mr. Joyce’s resignation for more than 10 years.
Peter Harbison, chairman emeritus of Sydney-based aviation analysts, the Center for Aviation, congratulated Mr Joyce.
“I don’t think there’s a board in Australia that wouldn’t want Alan Joyce as CEO. Losing Alan Joyce wouldn’t change Qantas’ strategy in any way.
“Pretending that Australia is different from the rest of the world (with delays and cancellations) is nonsense.
Mr Harbison also warned that “there seems to be an assumption that Qantas as an airline is invincible. The reality is that many iconic airlines around the world are in deep trouble.”
“It’s largely thanks to Joyce’s leadership that Qantas is not in the same position,” Mr Harbison said.
Sir Rod Eddington, former CEO of Cathay Pacific, Ansett and British Airways, said “The global aviation industry has faced its greatest crisis since the Second World War. All parts of the industry have been devastated – airlines, airports, caterers and travel agents”.
“Customers and staff have often struggled as the industry desperately tries to get back on its feet, here in Australia and overseas.
“Alan Joyce and the Qantas team know what needs to be done now – and they are best placed to do it,” said Sir Rod.
Emirates Chairman Sir Tim Clark, considered one of the industry’s great visionaries, said: “Alan Joyce has been QF’s most successful CEO for many decades.”
“He is an outstanding CEO in the airline industry, highly respected and appreciated by his peers. Running QF and keeping it afloat at a time when the worst the world can inflict on any airline has taken place is a testament to his skill and determination,” said Sir Tim.
The industry’s woes are indeed global, with British Airways and Heathrow airport being the hardest hit.
Heathrow Airport ordered airlines to stop selling tickets over the summer, capping the number of passengers passing through the airport at 100,000 a day, then extended that cap to at least end of October.
Due to staff shortages at Heathrow, British Airways was forced to reduce its winter schedule by 8% (affecting approximately 10,000 flights). It had previously cut 10% of flights between April and October, plus another 1,500 flights in July.
KLM has also been forced to cut 13,000 seats a day from its home port of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
Delta Air Lines was recently forced to fly an A350 plane to Heathrow just to pick up luggage left there.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has accused air traffic control of delaying one in five flights.
Responding to a negative Four Corners report on Qantas and outsourcing aired on Monday evening, a Qantas spokesperson said: “Qantas has used outsourced ground handlers for many years in a total of 55 out of 65 ports across Australia, which the union did not see as a safety issue”.
“The decision during the COVID crisis was to outsource the remaining 10 ports, including to companies that were already working for Qantas as well as several other airlines.”
Regarding the allegations of baggage-related incidents, the airline’s spokesperson said that “the data shows a lower incident rate than when ground handling was done in-house. The rates of proactive reporting of dangers are also higher since outsourcing, demonstrating a strong reporting culture by employees of these stopover providers”.