QANTAS is in the news again with its decision to lay-off more Australian staff and send those jobs off-shore, in a blatant cost-cutting measure. In my on-line search to find information to confirm this decision, I found this (edited) article and book which looks at “The Men Who Killed QANTAS” by Matthew Benns
The foundation for the grounding of the entire QANTAS fleet for the first time in the airline’s history was laid years ago. QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce, an Irish/Australian science graduate from the University of Dublin, worked for Aer Lingus for 8 years. He left to join Ansett Australia until he was appointed as CEO of Jetstar Australia. He was groomed as Geoff Dixon’s natural successor and the ideal candidate to see the work Dixon began through to fruition. Let us not forget that Dixon was the main cheerleader for an $11 billion debt-fuelled buyout in 2006 that would have put Qantas to the wall when the GFC hit. The shareholders vetoed the deal.
When the board backed Alan Joyce for the top job over 36 year QANTAS veteran John Borghetti it was effectively backing Dixon’s vision that had already begun with the use of cut price flight attendants from Thailand and New Zealand. Today there is a strong question mark over whether the airline picked the right man. Borghetti has gone on to take the helm of Virgin Australia, which is quickly filling the gap QANTAS has left for a quality airline the nation can be proud of.
QANTAS is currently locked in a battle to the death with its own workforce. Joyce clearly believes the only way forward is to base the workforce offshore to lower costs – Australian jobs will be lost but QANTAS will be able to compete on the same playing field as rivals such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Such a strategy comes with a massive cost. When a Rolls-Royce engine on flight QF 32 exploded over Singapore on the eve of the airline’s 90th anniversary it was the quick thinking of the pilot that saved the lives of the 440 passengers on board. Seasoned former RAAF and experienced pilot Richard Champion De Crespigny overrode the new Airbus A380s computers to safely land the plane. Alan Joyce hailed him a hero. But all that is quickly and unfortunately forgotten in his race to cut costs and put cheaper crews in the cockpit of Australian aircraft. Ask any passenger and there is no question that they want a well paid, seasoned QANTAS veteran in the cockpit when things go wrong.
QANTAS is more than a business. It is The Australian airline, with a long and proud history. It is perhaps unfortunate that Joyce does not seen to understand that principle, but then again he is Irish! QANTAS founder Hudson Fysh was a committed champion of pilots in the mould of Richard De Crespigny. What would Fysh have thought of the grounding of the fleet and the moves to send the workforce offshore simply to cut costs? There is no substitute for quality, and quality costs! Costs and safety are inversly proportional! The less you spend on maintenance, inspections and quality control, the greater the negative impact on safety. QANTAS has an enviable safety record in that it has never had a fatal accident. No other airline can claim that! Maybe under Jocye’s watch that will change.
Some may see this post as an advertisement for the book. It is certainly not so, the book rather supports a view that I have had about the (mis)management of QANTAS for some time. I have ordered the book and I will look forward to reading it to expand my view and knowledge on this subject. The book is available through Random House Books Australia.