A romance between high-profile Qantas executive Olivia Wirth and union boss Paul Howes is reportedly behind the decision to take away her government relations responsibilities.
As the September 14 election at which the Coalition is widely expected to win approaches, Qantas revealed yesterday it had changed Wirth’s role to head of group marketing. She will still be head of corporate affairs.
Wirth revealed her relationship with Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes last year, and The Australian has reported this played a role in Joyce’s decision, with the newspaper saying it understands Coalition MPs had complained about the perceived conflict of interest.
Joyce denied this, and has said in the past he does not think their relationship was an issue.
You can read his his email to Qantas staff below:
CHANGES TO THE QANTAS GROUP EXECUTIVE TEAM
All of us can take pride in our recent progress. We have the right strategy, we’re delivering on our commitments, creating a better, stronger Qantas, and confirming our position as Australia’s great airline.
As a result, we are achieving record levels of customer satisfaction, improving Net Promoter scores, winning on-time performance, and significantly improving employee engagement scores. We have a fantastic story to tell our customers.
Earlier this year I commissioned a brand review to find out how we might strengthen the marketing and communication of our Qantas brand. As a result of that review, today I am pleased to announce a range of changes to the business.
I have asked Olivia Wirth to expand her role to become Group Executive Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, with Group-wide oversight of the brand. New Head of Marketing positions will be created for Qantas Domestic and Qantas International, and those positions will report to Olivia. The Chief Marketing Officer for Qantas Loyalty will also report to Olivia. The Head of Marketing for Jetstar will continue to report into Jetstar, but will work as part of the Brand team to ensure we maximise the power of our two brands.
Marketing functions, including the Qantas ambassadors, sponsorships, inflight entertainment and digital marketing will also be part of this new team. Olivia will retain the media, internal communications, events function, community, and social media responsibilities.
Under Olivia’s leadership we will have a powerful and integrated marketing and communications capability. We will be far better placed to tell our story and promote our brand at the Group level. Close collaboration with the CEOs of Qantas Domestic, International and Qantas Loyalty will ensure the strength of communications at the segment level.
As a result of these changes, the existing Executive Manager, Marketing position, currently held by Lewis Pullen, will no longer exist. Lewis has been managing the Qantas marketing team, under the leadership of Simon Hickey, for the past few years. Lewis will be leaving the organisation at the end of June. We thank him for his contribution and wish him the best for the future.
More than ever we need to understand what our customers think and feel about us, and what they want from us. While we have strong customer research capabilities, they are currently scattered across the business. I am therefore creating a centralised customer research unit, reporting into the Executive Manager of Strategy, Rob Marcolina. Customer Insights (currently in Marketing) and Group Insights (currently in Loyalty) will now move to Rob Marcolina’s team. Group Insight will retain a dual reporting line to Loyalty to ensure we make the most of our rich customer data. This new approach will ensure we can use customer insights and data from across the Group to maximise the strength of the dual brands.
Strategic partnerships are vitally important to us as we pursue our goals. Making these partnerships work relies on having quality government relationships. The task is expanding as we maximise our international gateway strategy and build our Jetstar presence in Asia. We are also building our relationships with various state governments, and continuing to deepen our relationship with key stakeholders in the Australian government.
I am delighted to advise that Andrew Parker will be joining Qantas and taking up a new role as the Group Executive, Government and International Affairs, reporting to me. He will be a member of the Group Management Committee.
Andrew is a highly respected airline executive. He joined Emirates in 2007 as the Senior Vice President – Public, International, Industry and Environmental Affairs, where he was instrumental in growing the Emirates global network and managing government and stakeholder relations worldwide. Andrew also played a key role in forming the partnership between our two airlines. Prior to Emirates, Andrew served as press secretary and political adviser to various state and federal political leaders and ministers. Andrew established a public affairs agency in Australia, which was later acquired by Ogilvy Worldwide. He will join us in July, and until that time Olivia will retain responsibility for this area.
I believe these changes will help us better position and strengthen the Qantas brand. We’ll be able to know our customers better, market and communicate our stories more effectively, and help us strengthen vital government partnerships for success.
Please join me in congratulating Olivia and Rob on their expanded roles, and welcoming Andrew.
Now read: John Borghetti Says He Is Not Out To Show Former Employer Qantas Up
Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook and Twitter
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.