28 Feb 2014

I'm not quitting, says Qantas boss

11:13 am on 28 February 2014

Qantas chief Alan Joyce says he has no plans to step down, despite overseeing a record half-year loss and announcing plans to shed 5000 full-time jobs from the airline.

Alan Joyce: "I'm very passionate about staying here."

Alan Joyce: "I'm very passionate about staying here." Photo: AFP

Investors have punished Qantas for its $235 million half-year net loss, pushing its share price more than 9 percent lower on Thursday.

However, Mr Joyce told the ABC the slump was a "coincidence" that had nothing to do with his intention to continue on as chief executive.

"Share prices move up and down every day," he said. "Our shareholders are fully supportive of us, fully supportive of the board and fully supportive of the strategy.

"Obviously the market takes some time to digest these things, but I don't think you can relate any one issue to movements in the share price on a daily basis."

Mr Joyce has announced a cost-saving target of $2 billion through significant changes to fleet plans and routes, and a reduction in capital expenditure of $1 billion over the next two financial years.

However, market analysts are sceptical as to whether Qantas can turn its fortunes around, even with a radical restructure.

'These guys are a disgrace'

Meanwhile, independent senator Nick Xenophon has responded angrily to the Qantas announcement, calling for an independent judicial inquiry into the airline's books and accusing Mr Joyce and his management team of incompetence.

"These guys who run Qantas are a disgrace," Mr Xenophon says, "and it's the employees, the hardworking employees, that are copping it in the neck."

Asked if his strategy at Qantas had failed, Mr Joyce says they're coping with "the most difficult environment that we've ever seen in our history" and he believes they have the right plan to cope with that.

Responding to accusations that he is unfit to manage the national carrier, the Irish-born chief executive says: "You know I'm an Australian, I've been an Australian citizen for some time, I'm very passionate about this country, I'm very passionate about staying here."

Mr Joyce has warned of further belt-tightening. "We have to do more," he says, "and I have absolutely no doubt that there are going more tough decisions ahead."