Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says airline must adapt or die

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says airline must adapt or die

Qantas Airlines chief executive Alan Joyce has warned the airline must seek a truly global perspective or face becoming irrelevant in an increasingly competitive aviation market.

Addressing the 2011 Aviation Outlook Summit in Sydney, Joyce accused unions – who will begin industrial action at the airline on Friday – of being “out of touch” with reality.

Joyce went on to confirm Qantas will announce the strategy for revival of the long-haul main brand on August 24th.

“We are in negotiations with a number of unions,” Joyce explained.

“But some union leaders are simply out of touch and trying to block our use of new business models.”

The Australian & International Pilots Association (AIPA) has been in dispute with Qantas in recent months, demanding pilots flying for all Qantas affiliate airlines are paid the same premium rates as Qantas pilots.

This includes pilots operating Jetstar and Jetconnect departures.

Qantas has branded the demands unfeasible, with industrial action scheduled to begin on Friday.

“The claim appears to be designed to damage the viability of Jetstar and other subsidiaries in the naive belief that this will lead to increased activity in Qantas,” argued a statement from the airline.

At the same time the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) has been locked in a dispute over pay and conditions at the airline.

However, Joyce argued the union needed to understand new technologies required changed work practices.

“Our maintenance and repair costs are among the least efficient and most expensive in the world,” he said.

“So it is time to catch up. We don not repair our cars the same way we did 40 years ago. We cannot repair our planes the same way either. We can - and we will - be safer, smarter and more efficient.”

ALAEA members are due to stop work for 60 seconds on Friday.

Global Perspective

Joyce also outlined a need for Qantas to develop a more outward looking perspective, saying success was “far from guaranteed”.

“We come from a relatively small home market, that is not a major global destination.

“We have no global hub ports and we are not backed by government,” Joyce said.

“To secure our future, we must face up to the new global realities, seize new opportunities, and make the external and internal changes that will enable us to compete effectively,” he concluded.