Qantas boss’ awkward Coles encounter

 

A Qantas flight attendant among 20,000 employees stood down by the airline was worried about her future after 31 years at the company when she saw a man who might be able to give her some guidance.

The iconic airline's chairman Richard Goyder was recently shopping at a Perth Coles with his wife when the woman approached him with "red eyes and tears".

"She wanted to know whether she had a future," Mr Goyder toldBOSSmagazine.

"It was one of those really difficult conversations and I said: 'Well, it's hard.'

She said: 'What do I do? Do I take a redundancy at Qantas? Do I stay? I love Qantas.'"

Mr Goyder told BOSS that like "most of our employees" the woman was "just passionate about Qantas" and admitted the conversation was "challenging for me, because what do you say?"

He said he was confident Qantas could be back in the air by mid-2021, if a vaccine arrived by early next year, and told her to "hang in there".

Protesters outside Parliament House on Thursday after Qantas announced plans to cut a further 2,500 jobs last month. Picture: David Gray / Getty Images
Protesters outside Parliament House on Thursday after Qantas announced plans to cut a further 2,500 jobs last month. Picture: David Gray / Getty Images


Mr Goyder also worried an obsession with numbers and people being "paranoid about the virus" could be masking the mental health impacts of virus-imposed restrictions on Australians, including the flight attendants and pilots stood down from Qantas.

"We're now almost addicted to the numbers every day - 'How many new cases? How many deaths?' - which we didn't have with influenza and we don't have with motor vehicle accidents," Mr Goyder said.

"There's a lot going on at the moment that is below the numbers that we seem to be fascinated with," Mr Goyder said, adding "there is a human side to this."

Then Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder speaking at an event in 2015.
Then Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder speaking at an event in 2015.

According to Qantas' financial year 2019 annual report (the most recent available), Mr Goyder was remunerated a total of $584,000 and attended 13 meetings of the Qantas board as chairman and independent non-executive director, a role he assumed in October 2018.

He's also a director at Woodside Petroleum and on the board of the AFL, and was formerly CEO of Wesfarmers from 2005 to 2017 (during that time he oversaw the acquisition of Coles Group companies, including the very supermarket chain where he met the Qantas worker. The two demerged in 2018.)

As of June 30, 2019 he had 130,000 shares in Qantas, a holding that was worth $930,800 at the start of the year but has since plummeted to only $505,700.

He added an additional 9433 shares last month as part of a share purchase plan by Qantas which raised close to $72 million, purchasing almost $30,000 in shares at $3.18 a piece.

173,343 Qantas shareholders were invited to take part in that share purchase plan in June and around 5 per cent of them did, spending an average of $8200 each, well short of the $30,000 maximum permitted.

Originally published as Qantas boss' awkward Coles encounter