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QANTAS: Chief Information officer departs. Is this the first post Alan Joyce casualty?

QANTAS: Chief Information officer departs. Is this the first post Alan Joyce casualty?

Sam Charmand, up until now the Chief Information Officer at Qantas and head of some 500 staff, has ‘stepped away‘ from his position, just as it is expected the airline will need to make a major investment in customer-facing technology.

One of the major criticisms over the last few months leading up to ex-CEO, Alan Joyce’s departure was the technical difficulties for consumers using Qantas online IT systems. The whole process of gaining refunds or finding and using flight credits was particularly criticised.

Flight credit redemptions process a joke

I have written about this before. For example, where your account shows that you have outstanding flight credits, which have already been spent. Additionally, when using flight credits to purchase fares, the fare buckets available were often more expensive than if you used cash. Qantas claimed to have improved the process, but that was just a better link to the details.

Vanessa Hudson, CEO of Qantas Group [Qantas]
Vanessa Hudson, CEO of Qantas Group [Qantas]

Some free advice

Boston Consulting Group, a favourite of Qantas, has been engaged by the new CEO to help it repair its fractured customer relationship. Let me give both parties a hint – for nothing. Treat your customers as you would like to be treated if you were a customer! It’s not rocket science! We used to call it the ‘Golden Rule’.

Why don’t you start by recognising your premium flyers, like you did pre-pandemic? You know a ‘Thank you [Mr/Ms/chosen form of address], for being a loyal Qantas customer,’ followed by a ‘Don’t hesitate to ask if there is anything we can do for you.’

Then you could move onto making flight credit redemption just another form of payment option, rather than making us all search out an email with a credit number and password we didn’t choose that takes us to a new website and makes us use a seemingly different fare engine to book our flights.

Baggage tracking would be good, too.

And, I know this might be a revelation to you, Qantas Executives, but fares that represented just the pre-COVID rates with an increase in line with inflation would strangely probably placate quite a lot of your customers. That and not losing their luggage, delaying or cancelling their flights.

I have a few ideas about onboard service too, but that advice will involve a fee . . .

Qantas aircraft from Melbourne First Lounge [Schuetz/2PAXfly]
Qantas aircraft from Melbourne First Lounge [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

I fully expect new CEO Vanessa Hudson to mould her executive team to her liking, so I would expect some internal shuffles, some appointments, and some escorted by security to the back door in the coming months.

Rightfully, Ms Hudson will want to make her mark, if for no other reason than to delineate her reign from her predecessors. I’m not surprised if Mr Charmand was asked to leave or saw the writing on the wall. After indicating that increased investment in technology was required back in 2019, it doesn’t seem like much has been done at the customer-facing end of IT. Maybe all the investment went into that flight cancellation system that allowed Qantas to keep flights for sale up to 48 days after cancellation? The ACCC’s (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) court case will, we hope, reveal all.

We should all keep a good supply of popcorn on hand, as Ms Hudson and Mr Joyce are still expected to appear at the Senate inquiry that will investigate the Government’s decision to block Qatar Airways request for additional flights. We also have the November Board meeting that will reveal how much Qantas claws back from Alan Joyce’s payout, if any. Or did he get additional compensation for leaving two months early? Will the intrigue never end?


  1. Bill

    Nice article 2paxfly

    I my view ALL the board including the Frequent Flyer boss should be sacked at the AGM.

    They all raised there hands on pay increase, bonus, not refunding peoples money, not investing in new aircraft, cancelling flights, making it difficult to redeem F/F flights, etc etc.

    Replace them with people that have aviation background

    • 2paxfly

      Hi Bill, thanks for your comment. I have a lot of sympathy with your view. Its a case of – if the board did know then they were complicit, and if they didn’t know then they are incompetent. With Shareholder associations now interested, I think the next AGM in November might be interesting.


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