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Qantas may cancel half of Joyce’s $21m golden handshake

Qantas court ruling

Ex-Qantas CEO Alan Joyce could lose almost half of his $21.4 million annual salary package after a consumer backlash against the airline and allegations it sold seats on already cancelled flights.

The airline released its annual report for the 2022/23 financial year on Wednesday as well as a statement from the board spelling out the action it has and could take against senior executives following the uproar.

Mr Joyce pulled the plug on his tenure as Qantas CEO on September 5, two months before he was officially due to depart following its annual general meeting in November.

Days earlier, the consumer watchdog launched legal action in the Federal Court alleging Qantas engaged in false and misleading conduct by advertising tickets for flights it had already cancelled.

Some 8000 flights, which were not removed from sale, were due to depart between May and July 2022, the Australian Competition and Consumer Watchdog said on August 31.

The Qantas board has cut short-term incentive payments for senior executives by 20 per cent “in recognition of the customer and brand impact of cumulative events”.

It also plans to withhold the remaining balance of those payments while the ACCC legal action goes through the court.

Once the case is resolved, the board will decide whether to activate “clawback” provisions.

For Mr Joyce, who was replaced by Vanessa Hudson, this means $2.2 million in short-term cash and equity incentives has been withheld.

A further $8.3 million of his total remuneration for the year of $21.4 million could be clawed back, pending the outcome of the ACCC action.

“Much of the loss of trust stems from allegations by the ACCC,” chairman Richard Goyder said.

“While the ACCC’s recent allegations are untested, the board understands shareholder and community concerns about them coinciding with significant executive pay outcomes.”

Mr Joyce’s total remuneration for the year also included $2.1 million in base pay.

Mr Goyder said while there was much to do at the airline, there were “many” positives.

“That can only happen by consistently delivering to the standards people rightly expect, and the board is working closely with Vanessa and her new management team to ensure that happens,” it added.

-AAP

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