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Pilots at Australia's Qantas demand chair quit over scandals

They say morale 'has never been lower'.

2 minute read
Qantas aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Australia, Nov 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters
Qantas aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Australia, Nov 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters

A union for pilots employed by Australia's Qantas Airways called for the company's chairman to resign following a host of scandals that have drawn fierce criticism from travellers, regulators, lawmakers and its own employees.

The Australian and International Pilots Association (Aipa), which represents most of Qantas's roughly 3,000 pilots, said on Tuesday it wrote to the airline's new CEO Vanessa Hudson demanding the resignation of chairman Richard Goyder, saying morale "has never been lower".

"We have totally lost confidence in Goyder and his board," Aipa president Tony Lucas said in a statement.

"Qantas desperately needs a culture reset but how can this happen with Richard Goyder as chairman?"

Qantas declined to comment, referring Reuters to previous public comments from Goyder where he refused to quit.

Goyder, who has been the airline's chairman since 2018, is not up for reelection at its annual meeting in November.

With the addition of its pilots, the airline that sells three in every five Australian domestic airfares has drawn public attacks from almost every stakeholder group after a string of scandals that saw its previous longstanding CEO Alan Joyce bring forward his retirement.

In a few weeks, Qantas has been accused of lobbying the federal government to stop rival Qatar Airways selling more flights to Australia, served with an antitrust lawsuit alleging it sold tickets on thousands of cancelled flights and found in court to have sacked 1,700 ground staff illegally.

That has led to criticism from lawmakers, unions, investors and consumer groups, and overshadowed a record annual profit reported by the so-called flying kangaroo last month.

"Qantas has a lot of work to do to repair the damage that has been done to its reputation, both in terms of workers and in terms of customers," Australian Prime Minister Albanese told reporters, asked about the pilot demand for Goyder to leave.

Aipa did not say who should replace Goyder, nor did it say what it would do if he stayed chairman.

Qantas, meanwhile, warned on Monday that persistently high oil prices were driving up its fuel costs, prompting analysts to downgrade profit forecasts.

Qantas shares were down 1.3% in morning trading on Tuesday to the lowest level in a year, against a 0.5% dip on the broader index.

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