Posts Tagged ‘Qantas’

The company annual report season always seems to reveal porkish behaviour around the executive feeding trough, which was last reported by KC in 2009. Star porkers back then included outgoing Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon, but his replacement Alan Joyce had to get by then on a measly $3.7m. After a lean year in 2010 with only $2.9m, thanks to reduced bonuses, he has however been able to bounce back to a much more respectable $5m. What is so admirable about these smooth porkers is their incredibly tough skin, which enables them to completely ignore the demonstration effect on fellow workers and the larger community. The heavyweight porkers in banking, shopping centres & construction are of course in a class of their own. In Qantas’s case, Joyce has been at loggerheads with unions about reducing the company’s cost base, particularly labour, by setting up more offshore businesses. As noted previously, hubris and greed seem to know no bounds. Hypocrisy should be a mortal sin too, if it’s not already.

Whatever the business environment, executive salaries always find a way of galloping ahead, not trotting, as board remuneration committees practice their dark arts of structuring so-called performance hurdles, consulting with expert outsiders and benchmarking with each other. Actual comparative CEO airline salaries include ex Cathay boss Tony Tyler at $1.4m and ex Singapore Air’ C.S. Chew at $1.5m. SMH’s Scott Rochfort cheekily added the salary of president of Asia’s largest airline China Southern, Tan Wangeng, who raked in $153,000. A touch of irony too, as Qantas remuneration committee chairman James Strong’s salary was $1.48m when he was CEO. Meantime, despite healthy profits, the QF share price continues to fall and dividends are a thing of the distant past. Go figure, as they say! The final irony of the ‘New Spirit of Reward’ slogan in current QF advertising would be completely lost then too.

Disclaimer: KC’s business reporter is still a QF shareholder, but God knows why. In the good ol’ days the scrip was heading north of $4, not scraping along at $1.50 or so; and Dicko was trying to flog it all off and make himself very wealthy indeed, and us respectable.

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Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey announced his retirement (stepping down, calling quits) along with a forecast $165 million loss and heavily-discounted $231m capital raising. After ten years at the controls it’s understandable, but of course there is no connection between those events, and nobody was pushed .

As always on these occasions, one has been thinking about it for some time and personal reasons for leaving are banal: ”..to have some other discussion around our dinner table other than airlines.” Reported elsewhere as aeroplanes around the kitchen table, that means monotonous conversations at both ends of the day. The poor man is lucky to have anyone at home listening at all.

Chairman Chatfield said that an announcement of succession plans was prudent with a major capital raising. Fair enough, except there are no succession plans. He could only confirm that indeed “Brett has been thinking about this for some time” so presumably they shared the thought process. Plans to find a successor are in preliminary stages – internal & external candidates could be considered.

A succession plan would throw up some names, as for example, when Geoff Dixon parachuted from Qantas and several underlings canvassed immediately.

Amazing how some companies fall into Orwellspeak when heads change.

(Declaration of pecuniary interest: POH holds Qantas shares, no Virgin Blue)

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