‘We have let you down in many ways’: Qantas CEO says sorry to customers

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Qantas boss Vanessa Hudson has committed to a comprehensive review of all “outdated” customer policies after issuing an apology on behalf of the business for failing to strike the balance between managing the expectations of passengers and investors.

Hudson said she was focused on demonstrating that the group is actually sorry for its misdeeds but accepted it would take time before trust is regained, in her first public comments since being shoved into the big chair early after a harrowing month which led to the sudden departure of Alan Joyce.

Qantas boss Vanessa Hudson said it had been a “humbling” period for the airline business in a message to customers on Friday.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“We recognise Qantas has not been where it needs to be for a long time,” Hudson said in an interview on Friday. “I was a part of the leadership at the time but clearly I wasn’t the chief executive then. I am the chief executive now and what I would say is that I would like to be judged by what we do now and how we behave going forward.”

In a video message to customers on Friday, Hudson asked for patience while the group wades through a series of policy upheavals as part of a $150 million investment to try to regain trust. She said charging customers to change their name on a ticket was one of many “outdated” policies likely to be scrapped.

The group will also increase the number of frequent-flyer seats, boost the number of front-line staff and will consider moving their call centres back onshore in recognition of the business’s poor reputation.

“I know that we have let you down in many ways and for that, I am sorry. We haven’t delivered the way we should have. And we’ve often been hard to deal with. I know that our people have tried their absolute best under very difficult circumstances. I want you to know that we’re determined to fix it.

“This is going to take time and I ask for your patience,” she told customers.

Qantas’ month of turmoil started when former chief Alan Joyce revealed it had posted a record underlying profit of $2.47 billion for the 2023 financial year to raucous applause from investors. Joyce was summoned to appear before the Senate select committee into the cost of living crisis days later, where he was grilled over the airline businesses’ role in exacerbating economic pressures for its staff and customers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission then announced legal action against the group over alleged breaches of consumer law following a lengthy investigation that blindsided investors. The consumer watchdog said Qantas falsely advertised flights that had already been cancelled over a period between May and July 2022. Days later, Joyce announced he would step down early to give Hudson room to start her tenure with a clean slate.

But the pressure on Qantas has not eased with Joyce’s departure; many irate customers and investors have also been calling for the resignation of chair Richard Goyder over allowing Joyce to sell more than 80 per cent of his shareholding in the group in June.

Goyder told ABC radio on Thursday he would not step down and said he thinks he has support to continue in the role.

Hudson said she had not spoken to Joyce since his departure, but spoke to Goyder daily and said the board had been “inquiring, diligent and challenging” since she joined the executive team as chief financial officer in 2019.

She revealed Qantas’ bottom line has not been affected by the recent turmoil, with forward bookings remaining strong despite the recent scandals that have tarnished its brand.

“What is really important to me as a new chief executive is that I don’t take it for granted. I don’t want to continue on the same trajectory…I want to invest back into that customer experience so that we rebuild trust. We should never feel entitled to customer loyalty,” Hudson said.

The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.

Most Viewed in Business

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article