Rachel Waterhouse Insight

By Rachel Waterhouse, CEO, ASA
29 September 2023

Qantas has been in the media, continuously, for weeks now, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon.

It is clearly on the mind of many of ASA’s members, and I thank those who have contacted us about the challenges facing the airline. This has been the basis of much of our public commentary and our calls for the resignation of the Chair.

Our view is that the Chair has failed to ensure appropriate oversight of the CEO, who was able to sell 90% of his shares the day before the ACCC publicly announced that it would take action in the High Court for the carrier allegedly selling cancelled flights.

The airline has also been found at fault in the High Court for illegally sacking 1,700 baggage handlers and cleaners under the Chair’s watch.

The findings have been damaging to Qantas and, by extension, the value of the company shares.

Qantas is now trying to rebuild its brand and reputation and to restore trust with consumers and shareholders.

To do this, it needs an effective Chair, Board, CEO, and management team – not the same leadership who got it into the mess in the first place.

This week the Senate Select Committee held a hearing relating to the inquiry on Commonwealth Bilateral Air Service Agreements after the refusal to grant Qatar Airways additional access to the Australian market. In his appearance, the Qantas Chair, Richard Goyder, claimed that he has the support of major shareholders and the Board to remain in the Chair role. He added that he will reconsider his position, if that is no longer the case.

This inability to read the room, when government, the media, the business community, investors, and the public are calling for change, is concerning, and it will hamper any efforts by Qantas to revive its flagging reputation.

It is clear from our members that he does not have the support of the retail investors who own 10% of the company. The Annual General Meeting will be held in Melbourne and online on Friday, 3 November 2023 – if you own Qantas shares, we encourage you to take part, or you can provide your proxy to Australian Shareholders’ Association.

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