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QANTAS: The Board – changes at the top – new Chair, John Mullen

QANTAS: The Board – changes at the top – new Chair, John Mullen

Qantas has announced today, that Richard Goyder will be replaced as Board Chair by John Mullen at the October AGM. He is currently the chair of Treasury Wine Estates and Brambles. He has already said he will need to slim down his responsibilities so he can give Qantas appropriate attention.


Back in the second half of 2023, Qantas was struggling with a jet-propelled shitstorm of reputational damage. Cancelled flights and still selling them knowingly. Illegal sackings of ground staff. Terrible on-time performance. Sky-high airfares and a horrible implementation of their refund policy. These all took their toll on board members, the Chairman, and the CEO Alan Joyce.

The result of all that plus some very public missteps at televised government enquiries was the resignation, and early departure of the CEO, Alan Joyce. Resignations from the board, and indications from the Chair, Richard Goyder that he would step down early. Oh yes, and there was a massive vote against the remuneration report at the AGM.

Richard Goyder, outgoing Chair, Qantas [Qantas]
Richard Goyder, outgoing Chair, Qantas [Qantas]

New Chairman

As of 1 July 2024, John Mullen will join the Qantas Bard as Non-Executive Director and Chair-Elect. He will assume the Chair position just before the AGM, usually held in October.

John Mullen has been a professional board and Chair for some very large public companies including Telstra and Brambles. He has specific transport experience through executive work at Toll Holdings, Macquarie Airports, Embarq LLC, DHL Express and TNT Express Worldwide

The Australian Financial Review Changicleer column provides some insights into what we might expect:

At Telstra, those who worked for him say he shook up the joint. “He gets the consumer market, and he gets government,” one said, adding that his politeness masked a tough and pragmatic side.

At Brambles, he got into a $1 billion capex skirmish with a powerful investor, and backed down when it spilled into the public arena. It was the right result, although it didn’t need to go as far as it did.

Interestingly, capex looms large in Qantas’ near-term future, even if it has taken a back seat to the wider-ranging focus on customers and culture. The airline will spend $3 billion to $3.2 billion on capex this year, which is more than the $2.7 billion last year and much more than the $1.5 billion a year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of that goes on new aircraft.

Anthony Macdonald, Chanticleer column, AFR
a group of people in a lobby
No pierced wing frame forms as in Sydney here at the Melbourne First lounge. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

New Board member

Dr Nora Scheinkestel will be a new Board Member from 1 March 2024 as a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee. Given the rejection of the last Remuneration report, she will have until October to come up with one that is more acceptable

Scheinkestel is described as a seasoned Board Director with 25 years of experience. However, her work with transport-associated companies appears limited. Brambles is her only directorship that appears directly relevant. Still, across the board, you do need a range of talents, so maybe she provides some strengths in other areas, and hopefully to her assigned task of chairing the Remuneration committee.

a woman smiling for a picture
CEO Qantas, Vanessa Hudson [Qantas]

2PAXfly Takeout

These two new faces on the board replace retiring members Maxine Brenner and Jacqueline Hey, who will step down after the company’s half-year results.

These changes should provide a much-needed refreshed leadership following Alan Joyce’s ignoble departure last year. Whether this is the right combination for CEO Vanessa Hudson and her refreshed team to work with is yet to be seen. I don’t see anything revolutionary in the appointments, and that might provide safety. By the AGM we should know more.

Mullen has a habit of sticking with the appointed CEO, so provided Hudson is worth her metal, she should be safe. The executive and board have a lot to do to restore the company’s reputation in the public’s eye, and to return the share price to its pre-COVID glory. As well, they have set a path that involves bringing onboard new aircraft with the Sunrise Project for direct ultra-long-haul flights using Airbus A350s and Project Winton for domestic and regional fleet renewal including 20 Airbus A321XLRs, and 20 A220-300s which will replace the current fleet of Boeing 737 and 717 aircraft.

That’s a lot of capital expenditure to fund and manage, adding to the reputation loss to regain, staff confidence to restore and shareholder dissatisfaction to stem.


  1. BILL

    One thing the Qantas should do now is settle the dispute with the Pilots Union in Western Australia. Get it off the front page.

    This was what the previous board use to do. combat combat.

    I would prefer the Qantas board authorising some pay increases and recruiting extra staff. That would get around most/some of Qantas’s problems for a start. They just announced a healthy profit.

    Keep up the good work.

    • 2paxfly

      Thanks for the comment, Bill. I tend to agree with you. But with the dispute being between a Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation that flies regionally or on charter, I have a feeling that Qantas might continue to play hardball. Especially while it can deploy other aircraft from another entity to service some of these routes. Remember the company most affected on the charter service is Rio Tinto, that has its own interesting history dealing with union disputes.


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