The race among Qantas executives to replace CEO Alan Joyce could be won by an outside candidate, its chairman has hinted.
Richard Goyder told the business’ AGM that the airline’s long-standing boss would continue until “at least” the end of 2023, and a conversation on his exit wouldn’t happen until “sometime into next year”.
“The board’s very confident that Alan’s developed very capable executives and that we’ve got strong internal succession, and the board of course, will scan externally as well,” he said. “But the board feels very confident that we’re in good shape in terms of CEO succession as and when that is to occur.”
Joyce was appointed Qantas chief executive in November 2008 after a five-year spell in charge of Jetstar.
It’s long been rumoured he would depart in the next 18-months, after he said in February last year that COVID would be his “last crisis” as CEO.
Joyce has won plaudits, and critics, for overseeing a remarkable recent turnaround that will see the company target an underlying profit before tax of up to $1.3 billion in the first half of the current financial year.
The result comes despite the wider group recording an underlying loss before tax of $1.86 billion in its last full-year results and claiming the pandemic cost its airlines $7 billion in total.
One of the favourites for the top job is Stephanie Tully, who is set to imminently take over as Jetstar boss.
The former Qantas chief customer officer was seemingly rewarded with promotion for navigating a tricky six months of performance problems.
In 2022, Qantas has faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easter, hours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy.
“Stephanie has worked across several different parts of the airline, from crewing to marketing, and has a deep understanding of customer experience,” said Joyce in September.
“She’s an outstanding leader and she’ll be leading a very experienced senior team at Jetstar to keep building on the strengths of that business.”
The current chief customer role involves being responsible for “all aspects of the customer experience and strategy across the group including digital, customer products such as lounges and inflight experience, and customer care operations”.
Tully also oversees the Qantas brand’s marketing and sponsorships.