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Twist in Alan Joyce’s $21m payday

Qantas Chief Alan Joyce
Alan Joyce has recieved an eyewatering salary this year as his tenure at the flying kangaroo comes to an end. Picture NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis

Alan Joyce has received $21.4 million in pay for his role as Qantas chief as his time at the company comes to an end.

Qantas’ Annual Report for 2023 outlined that Mr Joyce would receive the eye watering sum for his work as chief executive in 2022-23 on Wednesday.

However, up to $14.4 million has been withheld as the company waits for more detail from an Australian Consumer and Competition Commission investigation.

Qantas Chief Alan Joyce
Mr Joyce will not receive all of his $21.4 million payday. Picture NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis

However, up to $14.4 million has been withheld as the company waits for more detail from an Australian Consumer and Competition Commission investigation.

Qantas has faced intense scrutiny around executive remuneration as the flying kangaroo battles backlash from customers and the consumer watchdog’s investigation, with Mr Joyce’s salary in particular under the microscope.

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“In the case of Alan Joyce’s remuneration for FY23, in addition to $2.2 million in short term bonuses that have been withheld, a further $8.3 million of a total adjusted $21.4 million is subject to clawback should the Board determine that necessary,” Qantas group chairman Mr Goyder said after the announcement.

“When combined with additional long-term incentives already granted, a total of $14.4 million is subject to malus and clawback if considered necessary.”

QANTAS FALLOUT
Mr Joyce resigned from Qantas amid increasing pressure to resign. NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

The company posted a record $2.47 billion in underlying profit for the last financial year.

In his statement, Mr Goyder said short term incentives for senior executives had been reduced by 20 per cent for FY23 as the company struggles under waning public support.

“While the ACCC’s recent allegations are untested, the Board understands shareholder and community concerns about them coinciding with significant executive pay outcomes,” he said.

“As part of good governance, after applying the 20 per cent reduction, the Board will withhold the balance of the FY23 short term incentive for senior executives while this matter progresses.”

Mr Joyce brought forward his retirement by two months, announcing he would step aside so new chief executive Vanessa Hudson could take the reigns.

He had served as Qantas chief since 2008 and had been a part of the company for 22 years.

Qantas Chief Alan Joyce
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - Newswire Photos August 28, 2023: Qantas CEO Alan Joyce during a senate hearing into the cost of living. Picture NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis

“In the last few weeks, the focus on Qantas and events of the past make it clear to me that the company needs to move ahead with its renewal as a priority,” he said in early September.

“The best thing I can do under these circumstances is to bring forward my retirement and hand over to Vanessa [Hudson] and the new management team now, knowing they will do an excellent job.

Qantas’ standing with the public has taken a battering in recent weeks, with soaring rates of customer dissatisfaction with the airline about stubbornly high airfares and its refusal to hand back jobkeeper funds to the government after posting its record profit.

New chief executive Vanessa Hudson is expected to apologise to nearly 1700 workers that were sacked by Qantas during the pandemic.

It comes after the High Court ruled 7-0 last week that Qantas illegally sacked the 1683 baggage handlers and cleaners in 2020.

The company outsourced the jobs as the aviation behemoth confronted a sharp drop-off in business.

On Tuesday the airline was labelled the most aggressive carrier in the country by Sydney Airport chief Geoff Culbert, who told a Senate hearing that it had a “strong presence” in Canberra.

QANTAS HQ JOYCE
New chief executive Vanessa Hudson is expected to apologise to nearly 1700 workers that were sacked by Qantas during the pandemic after the High Court found that their dismissal was illegal. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

“It’s no surprise to anyone if I said that they always had a strong presence in Canberra [...] and they are a robust counterparty for us to negotiate with,” he said.

The relationship between Mr Joyce and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been drawn into question after the government decided that it would block extra flights from Qatar airways into Australia.

The inquiry heard increasing airfares also could have dropped by 10 per cent if the federal government hadn’t rejected the bid.

Airline Intelligence and Research chief executive Tony Webber said ticket prices would have dropped “between 7 and 10 per cent” if Transport Minister Catherine King granted Qatar Airways bid for 21 extra flight services in July.