Qantas boss Alan Joyce and other top executives have been accused of not disclosing $100million in unused flight credits during a fiery clash with a senator that also sparked anger with the airline’s customers.
Labor Senator Tony Sheldon, a former boss of the Transport Workers Union, seized on a column in the Australian Financial Review which accused Mr Joyce airbrushing away accumulated flight credits worth hundreds of millions.
Last Thursday Mr Joyce said Qantas owed $370 million in unused flights that were racked up by would-be passengers unable to use tickets or denied frequent flyer use during the pandemic.
Senator Sheldon noted that this figure excluded flight credits for Jetstar and overseas Qantas passengers.
All remaining unused credits will expire on December 31 this year.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce faced a grilling by senators over the amount of flight credits Qantas has across all its operations
‘Just tell me what is the total sum value of flight credits remaining across the whole Qantas group including Jetstar and overseas customers?’ Senator Sheldon asked of Qantas’ head of corporate affairs Andrew McGinnes, who appeared with Mr Joyce.
Mr McGinnes tried to sidestep the question by saying he did not have the exact figures on hand, before adding there has been no lack of transparency on the issue by Qantas.
An exasperated Senator Sheldon tried directing the same question to Mr Joyce and also to Jetstar boss Stephanie Tully but neither could give him a satisfactory answer, although both insisted they had been upfront and weren’t trying to mislead.
After interrogating Ms Tully about Jetstar’s portion of the flight credits the Senator was finally given a rough figure to add to the $370million.
‘It is more than $100million?’ Senator Sheldon asked Ms Tully.
‘Jetstar’s is around $100million,’ she replied.
After again being told by Mr McGinnes that he was unsure of how much more would have to be added for a complete sum Senator Sheldon exploded.
‘Not sure, my goodness. What’s tens of millions of dollars of other people’s money?’
The reaction of frequent flyers and Qantas customers online was just as furious.
‘Alan Joyce is not sure of many questions. What does that say? And I’m a Qantas frequent flyer member,’ one persons said.
During the Covid period hundreds of millions of flight credits were racked up by people unable to tickets or frequent flyer points (stock image)
The reaction of frequent flyers and Qantas customers online was just as furious
Labor Senator Tony Sheldon was relentless in asking the Qantas executives for the full total of flight credits
Another wrote about how she has struggled like many other customers to recoup what’s she’s owed.
‘Good luck trying to even find your flight credits in your account. They’re not there,’ she said.
‘Qantas have made it so hard to even access these credits – you have to try & find an email they sent you from 2+ years ago. Criminal.’
Others complained about the direction of the airline and the outgoing CEO.
‘Not sure I’ve ever disliked a CEO more than I dislike Alan Joyce. And I say that as a currently Platinum Frequent Flyer and ex Platinum One Frequent Flyer. He’s taken public money (from Covid subsidies) to line shareholder pockets while price gouging customers,’ one person said.
Another wrote: ‘As a lifetime gold member, shareholder and frequent flyer out of Adelaide I reckon prices have never been higher, service never been worse and management been so removed from a clear focus on customer service.’
Qantas last week announced it had delivered a record $2.5billion profit only a year after suffering a deep loss, with Mr Joyce delivering his last financial result before finishing up as CEO in November and handing over to his chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson.
The full-year underlying profit before tax of $2.465billion marked a major turnaround from a $1.859billion loss for 2021-22 covering a period before Australia reopened its borders to international travellers.
‘There’s lots of criticism of corporate profits at the moment, due in large part to the cost of living pressures happening in parallel and we understand that,’ Mr Joyce said.
‘In Qantas’ case, we have put a lot of thought and balancing to the needs of those who rely on us and who we rely on.’
Revenue doubled to $19.8billion in the year to June 30, up from $9.1billion, and surpassing the $17.97billion level of 2018-19, before the pandemic.