Qantas names Olivia Wirth as CEO of its highly profitable Loyalty business

Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Airways. Photo: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/GettyImages

Qantas has named its chief customer officer, Olivia Wirth, as the replacement CEO of the company’s highly lucrative loyalty business, following the sudden departure Jayne Hrdlicka late last year.

CEO Alan Joyce was forced to change his leadership team again just two months after his most recent shakeup, which brought Hrdlicka across from CEO of Jestar after five years, only to see her depart a few weeks later to become CEO of the A2 Milk company.

Wirth took on the CCO role in November in addition to running brand, marketing and corporate affairs. She has been with the company for nine years.

Vanessa Hudson, a 23-year veteran of the business and currently executive manager of sales and distribution, will take over the CCO role and as well as responsibility for marketing, joining the group management committee and reporting to Joyce.

Corporate Affairs will move under people and culture group executive Lesley Grant’s remit — she previously ran the loyalty division.

The changes come into effect from February 12.

Joyce said that Wirth and Hudson were “standout examples” of the “high calibre” senior executives with a “deep understanding of our business”.

“Olivia has been on the Group Management Committee for eight years and has very successfully led the Qantas brand, including managing the marketing function for Frequent Flyer, as part of her portfolio,” he said.

“It’s a business she understands well and that will benefit from her strong customer analytics and marketing experience as this part of our portfolio keeps expanding.”

He credited Hudson with introducing Neil Perry and the Rockpool to the company’s in-flight dining and the complete re-design of our domestic check-in experience

“Combined with her understanding of our network and fleet, Vanessa will lead the many initiatives happening across the Group to keep improving the experience for our customers,” he said.

The Qantas Loyalty division is the most profitable parts of the airline, with earnings up $23 million last financial year to $369 million, aided by the return of its points program with Woolworths. Joyce is banking on the loyalty program’s earnings nearly doubling by 2022 as the number of partnerships it operates increases.

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