Qantas chairman rejects resignation calls

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder on Wednesday rejected calls for his resignation over a string of scandals that have buffeted the Australian airline’s reputation.

Pilots and a shareholder group have called for his head because of high ticket prices, illegal ground staff layoffs and allegations it sold thousands of tickets for already-cancelled flights.

The turbulence led former chief executive Alan Joyce to take early retirement on September 5.

Goyder said he had met major shareholders two weeks ago, following Joyce’s departure and after the launch of legal action over Qantas’ allegedly “false, misleading or deceptive” ticket sales.

Shareholders wanted the “continuity” of his leadership as chairman, he told a Senate committee in Canberra, especially with a new chief executive, Vanessa Hudson, who took over from Joyce.

“While retaining the confidence of our shareholders and the board, I will continue to serve because I think we have got some very significant challenges ahead of us and issues to deal with,” Goyder said.

“If that confidence is not maintained, then clearly I will review that decision.”

The Senate committee is probing the Australian transport minister’s decision to block a request by Qatar Airways for an extra 21 flights a week into the country’s biggest cities.

Qatar Airways was “surprised and shocked” by the rejection of its request, its senior vice president for global sales, Matt Raos, told the panel.

“Even more surprising was that the government gave us no reason for rejecting our application. We really can’t understand why,” he said.

Transport Minister Catherine King has said her July 10 decision was taken in the “national interest”.

The minister has given various explanations, notably citing the Qatar authorities’ gynaecological searches of women air passengers three years ago in Doha as they searched for the mother of a newborn baby found in an airport bathroom.

Qatar Airways — an international competitor to Qantas — said the government had not made any contact about the “invasive” Doha airport searches or any other aspect of its extra flights application since it was lodged in August 2022.

It argued that the additional flights, if they had been approved, would have created an additional Aus$3 billion (US$1.9 billion) in economic benefits to Australia over five years. — Agence France-Presse