'I Am Sorry': Qantas CEO Apologises to Customers

"We haven’t delivered the way we should have, and we’ve often been hard to deal with," said CEO Vanessa Hudson.
'I Am Sorry': Qantas CEO Apologises to Customers
Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson speaks during a press conference in Sydney, Australia on Aug. 25, 2022. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Daniel Y. Teng

New Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson has apologised to customers saying the national carrier will need time to regain the trust of the Australian public.

"I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that I am sorry," she said in a video statement released on Sept. 22.

"We haven’t delivered the way we should have, and we’ve often been hard to deal with. We understand why you’re frustrated, and why some of you have lost trust in us."

Ms. Hudson said Qantas staff had "tried their absolute best under very difficult circumstances" and that the company was determined to improve the experience for customers.

"We want to get back to the national carrier that Australians can be proud of. That’s known for going above and beyond. We understand we need to earn your trust back, not with what we say, but what we do and how we behave," she added.

"This is going to take time and I asked for your patience. The work is already underway. We’re putting more people in our call centers to help solve problems faster. We’re adding more frequent flyer seats. We’re reviewing all of our customer policies to make sure they’re fair.

"And we’re giving our frontline teams more flexibility to better help you when things don’t go to plan. That’s only the start."

Ms. Hudson picks up after former CEO Alan Joyce who stepped down from his position two months early.

His departure was prompted by legal action from Australia's consumer watchdog—potentially costing the airline hundreds of millions—over the alleged promotion and sales of 8,000 airfares for flights that had already been cancelled.

Qantas Buffeted By Multiple Challenges

At the same time, the Spirit of Australia also faces a swathe of other challenges that have played out in the public eye.
On Sept. 19, CEO Hudson was ordered by the federal court to attend mediation with the Transport Workers Union. This was aimed at reaching an agreement on an appropriate compensation for the illegal dismissal of 1,700 workers during the pandemic.
Qantas had outsourced those jobs in 2020 in response to lockdowns from the government as a means of cutting costs. However, a High Court decision found this move contravened the Fair Work Act.
On another front, a group of Qantas customers have banded together to file a class action lawsuit against the airline for not providing cash refunds for flights cancelled during the pandemic.

"In addition to seeking refunds of any outstanding amounts due to Qantas customers ... the claim seeks to recover an award for interest and for consequential losses—for example, compensation for 'loss of use of money,'" said Echo Law who is acting on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Qantas has also been accused of lobbying the federal Labor government to deny a request from Middle Eastern airline Qatar Airways to increase the number of flights into the country.

Transport Minister Catherine King denied the application citing Australia's "national interest" and the human rights record of Qatar. The decision is now subject to a Senate inquiry.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected].
Related Topics