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New Qantas CEO: Alan Joyce to depart

Vanessa Hudson will take over as Qantas CEO this year.

A composite image of incoming Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson and the Qantas logo on the back of a plane.
Vanessa Hudson will take on the role of Qantas CEO. (Source: Provided / Getty)

Alan Joyce has faced plenty of praise as well as a lot of backlash during his time as Qantas CEO and now, a new face will take on the role - Vanessa Hudson.

Hudson has worked at Qantas since 1994, working her way up from an internal audit supervisor to be ready to take on the top job.

She is currently the chief financial officer, but will work closely with Joyce before taking over as CEO in November this year.

“It’s an absolute honour to be asked to lead the national carrier. This is an exceptional company full of incredibly talented people and it’s very well positioned for the future,” Hudson said.

“My focus will be delivering for those we rely on and who rely on us – our customers, our employees, our shareholders and the communities we serve.”

Who is Vanessa Hudson?

Since joining Qantas nearly 30 years ago, Hudson has held a variety of senior commercial, customer and finance roles across the company, in Australia and overseas.

In her various roles, her responsibilities ranged from sales channels, revenue management and network planning, to transformation in catering, airports and network.

In February 2018, Hudson was appointed to the role of chief customer officer and became a member of the Group Management Committee.

In October 2019, she became the CFO and held this portfolio through the COVID crisis, when sudden border closures saw revenue evaporate in a matter of weeks.

Careful management through that period saw the company make it through the crisis and ultimately emerge with a stronger balance sheet than pre-COVID.

Hudson has a Bachelor of Business and was admitted as a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1994. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.

Why is Alan Joyce stepping down?

Joyce extended his time as CEO to see the company through the COVID recovery plan, and said now was the right time to leave.

“Now that we’re on the other side of that crisis, it’s a logical time for me to step down. There’s still a lot I want to deliver in the next six months, and at the top of that list is ensuring a smooth handover to Vanessa, who I’m sure will excel in the role,” Joyce said.

Joyce’s reign as CEO was applauded pre-COVID when the airline was performing well for customers and shareholders alike, but he came under intense criticism when borders reopened and cracks began to show.

Aussies desperate to travel were hit with long wait times, cancelled flights and lost baggage.

Joyce was also blasted for taking home a massive $2 million paycheque in 2020 despite thousands of staff having been laid off during the pandemic.

CHOICE labelled Qantas the ‘Spirit of Disappointment’ at last years’ Shonky awards, noting the airline's staffing issues.

“Qantas appears to have gone deliberately out of its way to win a Shonky Award this year,” CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland said at the time.

“Qantas customers have had to deal with unfair and unworkable flight credits, lost baggage, excessive call wait times, and delayed flights. Qantas charges travellers premium prices, but they are not providing anything close to a premium service, which is why they’re receiving a Shonky Award this year.”

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