Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) chairman Richard Goyder has bowed to public pressure by announcing plans to retire from the board next year, in the latest move seeking to restore the embattled airline’s image.
Goyder, who remains a key figure of the old guard that oversaw a string of reputational disasters in recent years, will retire before the annual general meeting at the end of next year.
His planned resignation comes on the heels of the departure of Alan Joyce as CEO early last month, and follows calls from various quarters that the chairman should follow suit.
Among them has been the Australian and International Pilots Association after the High Court found that the company had illegally sacked almost 1,700 ground handlers in 2020.
The representative body of Qantas pilots late last month called for Goyder’s resignation for his oversight of the company through ‘what may well be one of the most damaging periods in Qantas’ history’.
Goyder’s exit from the Qantas board is part of a renewal process that Qantas says is in recognition of the reputational issues facing the group and to support restoration of trust in the company’.
Ahead of his departure, non-executive director Michael L’Estrange will retire at this year’s AGM on 3 November while Jacqueline Hey and Maxine Brenner will retire after 10 years on the board when the company announces its half-year results in February.
“As a board, we acknowledge the significant reputational and customer service issues facing the group and recognise that accountability is required to restore trust,” Goyder says.
“Qantas has gone through an incredibly difficult period since our operation was grounded during the pandemic. The recovery has not been easy, and mistakes were made. We again apologise for those times where we got it wrong.
“I have always sought to act in the best interests of Qantas. Measured and orderly succession at board level will support the important work under way, led by Vanessa (Hudson) and her new management team.
“Fundamentally, the group is in a very strong position to overcome its current challenges and deliver for all its stakeholders in the years ahead.”
Former current chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson, who was appointed as CEO of Qantas after Joyce’s resignation, is up for re-election at the November AGM, along with new directors Doug Parker and Dr Heather Smith, and existing directors Todd Sampson and Belinda Hutchinson.
Qantas says that once the new directors are in place, board members will have an average tenure of about three years by the 2024 AGM, which it says will provide ‘a balance of fresh leadership with necessary continuity’.
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