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QANTAS: Chairman Richard Goyder bows to public and shareholder pressure to resign

QANTAS: Chairman Richard Goyder bows to public and shareholder pressure to resign

Richard Goyder has been Chairman of Qantas since October 2018. Don’t get too excited. His resignation date is over a year away – ‘…prior to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in late 2024.’


Goyder confidently asserted in front of the Senate Select Committee on Commonwealth Bilateral Air Service Agreements, two weeks ago (20 September 2023), that he had consulted with 14 of the airlines’ top 20 major shareholders, and they continued their support. Maybe that support waned with the tumbling share price. Qantas stock has dropped around 25% over the last 6 months. It has reflected the turbulent public response to the way Qantas has treated its customers.

The AFR is reporting that Goyder met with a range of shareholders last week in Sydney and Melbourne.

‘Super funds and the Future Fund jointly hold around 30 per cent of Qantas’ shares and made no secret of their desire for the Qantas board to provide accountability for the airline’s woes.’

Ayesha de Kretse, AFR
a large white airplane at an airport
Qantas 737-800 Sydney Airport T3 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Alan Joyce, the former CEO retired two months before his announced departure date in November 2023. It’s thought his poor performance before a Senate inquiry into the cost of living contributed to the early retirement. During that appearance, Joyce revealed that as well as the AU$ 370 million owed to Australian customers in flight credits, there was an additional AU$ 100 million owed by Jetstar. Responding to questions on notice, we learnt that there was another AU$100m owed to overseas purchasers of Qantas Group tickets. That, brought the total to more than AU$570 million.

In September, around the same time, the High Court rejected an appeal by Qantas to a ruling that it had illegally sacked 1700 ground staff. That ruling rendered Qantas liable to a possible fine of AU$ 250 million, plus compensation for the workers that could be an equivalent amount. A liability of possibly half a billion dollars might have been the nail in Alan Joyce’s early retirement coffin.

CEO Qantas, Vanessa Hudson [Qantas]
CEO Qantas, Vanessa Hudson [Qantas]

Other Board retirements

Goyder is not the only board member to go. Michael L’Estrange has already announced his retirement at the next AGM on 3 November 2023. Additional board members, after 10 years of service, Jacqueline Hey, who controversially heads the remunerations committee and Maxine Brenner will retire at the Qantas half-year results announcement in February 2024.

The remuneration committee and Chair have come under fire for the bonus deal they cut with ex-CEO Alan Joyce, and that he has so far only suffered some half a million dollar penalty out of potential bonuses of 20-odd million dollars.

As a Board, we acknowledge the significant reputational and customer service issues facing the Group and recognise that accountability is required to restore trust.

Qantas has gone through an incredibly difficult period since our operation was grounded during the pandemic. The recovery has not been easy, and mistakes were made. We again apologise for those times where we got it wrong.’

Richard Goyder, Chair, Qantas Group

Understatement is a fine thing.

a group of airplanes at an airport

2PAXfly Takeout

This early retirement – although in my mind not early enough is a just penalty for a Chair who oversaw the ruination of the brand’s reputation. Damage that I believe will be largely permanent.

Alan Joyce for all the hate piled on him, did the fairly honourable thing of leaving early. Goyder as Chair, has until now taken little responsibility for his leadership role in the destruction of the brand.

I my view, this is too little too late.

Goyder, Vanessa Hudson, the new CEO, and Andrew Finch, General Counsel and Group Executive, behaved appallingly in front of the Senate inquiry. They refused to supply information, and for many questions on notice, supplied totally inadequate explanations or none at all. One example is the claiming of a ‘privacy’ exemption to supplying information on how many upgrades Qantas has supplied to politicians. If no politicians are identified, where is the privacy concern?

Andrew Finch for Qantas committed the ultimate disrespect to the inquiry by trying to get the Committee Chair to wrap up questioning because the last flight out of Canberra was set to leave in the next 35 minutes. Politicians, whatever you think of them, in the main, work extremely hard and generally take their representation of the public interest seriously. Being late for a flight as an excuse for not answering questions is akin to offering the excuse: ‘the dog ate my homework’. It’s immature and disrespectful.

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