Alan Joyce Veers off Message, Credibility Now In Question

A quick note on Qantas boss Alan Joyce…

For a while there it looked like he had plan, and the strength of character, to lead his airline through a self-proclaimed crisis even if it did involve sacking 5000 staff. In terms of messaging, Mr Joyce has resolutely held the line: Qantas is in crisis, it will collapse without govt help and serious cost-cutting measures.

But last week Mr Joyce inexplicably decided to change tack and his credibility is seriously frayed.

The first was for Qantas to back flip on carbon tax.

A Qantas spokesman recently said its $106m carbon tax bill for the 2012/13 financial year was not a major concern (even though the carrier had vigorously lobbied against its introduction by the previous government).

A storm erupted and on Wednesday it hurriedly issued a statement that the carbon tax is “among the most serious issues we face”. The speculation is that the current govt, which wants to repeal the tax, pressured them to do it.

Then a day later Mr Joyce, who has done nothing but run down his airline’s prospects unless there is radical change, exacerbated the situation.

He fronted a lunch full of business heavies in Sydney and for some reason decided to to ditch the historic rhetoric and talk up the Qantas business.

“We are very comfortable that Qantas is a very healthy airline” whether or not foreign ownership restrictions are lifted by the Federal government, he told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch.

This is the same man who last November said “there will not be a Qantas in the future” unless Qantas Sale Act was amended.

The same bloke who dramatically declared in late Feb: “With structural economic changes being exacerbated by the uneven playing field in domestic aviation, we must now take actions that are unprecedented in scope and depth”.

Now everything is OK.

Not it’s not, especially for Mr Joyce, has dug himself into a very big hole.

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