Alan Joyce has rejected calls for his resignation after his airline posted a $252 million loss, saying he’s “the right person” to lead the loss-making national carrier.
Speaking to Sarah Ferguson on ABC TV’s 7.30 tonight, Mr Joyce said that the company had been profitable for most of the five years he’s been CEO.
“I believe I’m the right person to make sure that we take this company through the challenges that we face at the moment. We’ve got severe challenges because of the environment we’re operating in. Severe challenges because of the fuel prices and we have a plan to turn this business around,” he said.
Mr Joyce said the company’s plan to retrench 5000 workers was part of $2 billion in cost savings over the next three years would return Qantas to profitability, but repeatedly emphasised Qantas operated in a “distorted market” on an “unlevel playing field” – a reference to Virgin Australia’s foreign investors, adding that it was “a competitive dynamic we’ve never seen before” and “Virgin has an advantage with policy settings that are here”.
He refused to offer any certainty for any of the 27,000 employees who will survive the cuts.
“My role is to ensure I protect as many of the Qantas jobs as I can. I don’t think anybody has a guarantee on their roles… I don’t think there’s anybody can assume all these jobs can be protected in the future,” he said.
Mr Joyce denied that he hadn’t taken “the hard decisions” to cut loss-making international routes, with Ms Ferguson citing South America and South Africa as two examples.
“We are clearly taking the tough decisions and they’re needed decisions to ensure Qantas has a future,” he said citing cutbacks in flights to London, and withdrawal from Frankfurt and the Auckland-Los Angeles route.
“Every route that’s left generates cash for us,” he said.
“We are making the necessary changes. We’re not Holden or SPC.”
Mr Joyce said he was only asking for a “fair go” for Qantas, saying the company doesn’t have one at the moment.
While Qantas has 64 per cent of the domestic market and Mr Joyce said both the flying kangaroo and Jetstar were making money domestically, the airline was “facing unfair competition”.
Despite repeated questioning from Sarah Ferguson, Mr Joyce avoided saying whether the Prime Minister or anyone in the government had had a conversation about guaranteeing jobs would stay in Australia if Qantas received a debt guarantee.
He was continuing to have discussions with politicians on all sides in a bid to change the Qantas Sale Act to allow more foreign investment.
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