Qantas CEO gets massive pay rise after ‘remarkable’ turnaround

Alan Joyce, chief executive of Australia’s biggest airline Qantas Airways Ltd, stands with Tino La Spina, Qantas chief financial officer. Source: Reuters

QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce has almost doubled his pay packet taking his earnings to just under AUD25 million (US$20.04 million). Following a sizable bonus, the 51-year-old recorded a 90 percent leap in earnings from his 2016 take-home pay of AUD12.9 million (US$10.3 million).

The rise comes amid his efforts to turn the troubled Australian airline around after a wave of losses. Bloomberg reported that Qantas saw its second-highest annual profit on record in August and announced its fourth buyback of stock in two years, marking the successful completion of Joyce’s three-year turnaround program.

The report added that he dropped unprofitable routes to cut losses, downsized staff by the thousands, retired older planes, and deferred aircraft as part of the AUD2 billion (US$1.6 billion) program.

SEE ALSO: Qantas eyes direct Sydney-London flights with new aircraft development

Joyce is now Asia Pacific’s highest-paid airline executives, and among Australia’s highest-paid CEOs alongside the company of Westfield joint chief executives bosses Peter and Steven Lowy.

Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said in a statement that the bonus was justified because of the airline’s “remarkable” turnaround.

“There is no question that these pay outcomes are high.”

“That’s because they reflect the company’s exceptional performance, including our top ranking for total shareholder return among global airline peers and every company on the ASX100.”

He added that about 97 percent of the company’s shareholders voted to approve the raise.

SEE ALSO: Qantas is most punctual airline in Asia-Pacific region

“For a business that was facing an uncertain future three years ago, and was in no position to pay bonuses to any of its people, the fundamentals that underpin today’s pay disclosures show how far we have come,” he said.

Three years ago, Australia’s flagship carrier made a loss of US$2.84 billion due to rising oil prices and intense competition from Virgin. But Joyce’s management coupled with lowered fuel prices managed to turn a profit for the airline.