Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson issues second apology to customers

Freshly minted Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson has issued a second apology as the airline’s woes continue to mount, promising to make changes to win back customers’ trust and rebuild the company’s flagging reputation.

Ms Hudson took the reins at Qantas earlier this month after former chief executive Alan Joyce exited the airline two months earlier than anticipated amid ongoing controversy.

In a video message released on Friday, Ms Hudson said she understood customer’s frustration and apologised for the airline’s recent track record.

“I know that we have let you down in many ways and for that, I am sorry,” Ms Hudson said.

“We haven’t delivered the way we should have. And we’ve often been hard to deal with.”

In early September, Hudson also apologised to staff and stated the new management team would be focussed on customers.

Changes to come

Ms Hudson promised to rectify the airline’s problems and get back to being the national carrier that all Australians can be proud of”.

“We understand we need to earn back your trust not with what we say, but with what we do and how we behave,” she said.

Customers can expect more frequent flyer seats, greater resources for call centres to solve problems, and a review of customer policies.

Ms Hudson also assured travellers that frontline teams would be granted greater flexibility “to better help you when things don’t go to plan”.

“This has been a humbling period,” she said.

Qantas scandals stack-up

Public furore came to a head last month when the airline revealed a super-sized $2.47bn profit result while it slashed costs and struggled to offer adequate customer service.

A class-action lawsuit over pandemic-era refunds, an ACCC investigation over selling cancelled fares, the refusal to pay $2.5bn in government subsidies, and a poor-showing by then-chief executive Alan Joyce at a Senate hearing added to the airline’s woes.

A separate High Court ruling last week upheld a Federal Court ruling that the airline illegally sacked 1,700 workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The retrenched staff are expected to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Joyce was paid Alan Joyce was paid $21.4 million in the 2022-23 financial year, however more than half of that could be withdrawn due to the pending ACCC investigation.

The airline also became a target after the federal government denied Qatar Airways’ application to increase its capacity into eastern Australia, thereby reducing competition in the aviation industry.

On Thursday during an interview broadcast on the ABC, Qantas chair Richard Goyder refused to stand aside, arguing that he continued to maintain the support of major shareholders.

“Shareholders are very supportive of the work we’re doing now,” he said.

“On the customer side of things, we know we’ve got some work to do. We know we’ve let people down.”

Qantas shares sank to a fresh 11-month low on Friday, to $5.28 a share.

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