Re: Joyce

4 September 2023
Re: Joyce - Featured image

Alan Joyce will depart from his role as Qantas CEO in November, leaving as his legacy one of the world’s most woke airlines.

Given its impeccable political correctness, it is somewhat surprising that after declaring a $1.4 billion half-year profit, the airline declined to return any of the $2.7 billion dollars it received in government subsidies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For passengers, it is a case of insult being added to injury. Taxpayers who bailed out the airline during the pandemic must now pay outrageous airfares for the privilege of flying with it. Qantas makes breezy promises about an imminent fall in the cost of a ticket, but these are about as reliable as its departure times.

Passengers are rightly aggrieved. At the most recent World Airline Awards, which are based on customer feedback, Qantas nosedived from a ranking of fifth best carrier to 17th. Qantas was not even considered the best airline in the region, losing that title to Fiji Airways.

What else will the Joyce era be remembered for? There are the comments Qantas made in support of Rugby Australia’s (RA) decision to tear up its contract with Israel Folau, the greatest Wallaby of his generation, for posting biblical texts on social media.

The airline said it was “disappointed” by Folau’s post, and was “pleased to see Rugby Australia’s condemnation of the comments”.

Significantly, RA stated at the time that it acted as it did for fear of losing sponsors—foremost of which was Qantas. (This supine attitude ultimately served no purpose, with the airline subsequently walking away from its association with RA and other sporting codes.)

For good measure, Joyce told the Australian Financial Review (AFR): “It’s not an issue for Qantas, it’s an issue for every potential sponsor for Rugby Australia, ever … They have to manage it … and shame on you if it happens a second time. That’s the way we approach it in the aviation industry, and we expect these organisations to be the same.”

This is a curious observation, given that the global airline industry—including the democratically challenged State owners of various national carriers—is hardly famous for its staunch commitment to human rights or its record of challenging tyrannical governments.

Finally, it has been reported that on two occasions Joyce has had national newspapers removed from Qantas business lounges because of what he considered their unflattering coverage of the airline. The targeting of the AFR on one occasion prompted acerbic columnist Joe Aston to observe:

This is a decision the public can see, but what other decisions are made beyond our line of sight? Who else has slighted Joyce and suffered the consequences? The Financial Review is a tiny vendor to Qantas. What becomes of the major catering or engineering supplier who displeases the great man? What is it like for employees who make a mistake, or who fail to genuflect deeply enough?

But all this aside, Qantas has patched its tattered virtue by ensuring passengers know precisely which First Nation claims the land on which they have just touched down.

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