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10 Things You Didn't Know about Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

Alan Joyce Qantas

The travel industry may have been bought to its knees by the COVID crisis, but there's one top airline boss that's remaining optimistic. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is determined that both he and his firm will come out of the pandemic fighting, even if that does mean taking a massive 83% pay cut for now. Whether or not his prophecy will come true, who knows? For now, it's a waiting game. As we wait for the dice to fall, find out more about the Qantas CEO with these ten fast facts.

1. He was born in Ireland

He may have made Australia his home, but Joyce is Irish by birth. The CEO was born in the Dublin suburb of Tallaght in June 1966. One of three siblings, his mother worked as a cleaner while his father worked in a tobacco factory. After attending St Mark's Community School, he went on to study math and physics at Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College, Dublin.

2. He began his career at Aer Lingus

He may be Qantas through and through now, but Joyce began his career with rival firm, Aer Lingus. After working his way through numerous positions in sales, network planning, research, revenue management and fleet planning at the firm, he eventually left in 2000 to join Qantas.

3. He's been CEO of Qantas since 2008

It didn't take Joyce long to impress the top bosses at Qantas. After joining the firm in 2000, it took him only 8 years to reach the top position of CEO. In May 2019, he renewed his contract for a further three years.

4. He's not a fan of lemon meringue pie

If you ever have Joyce over for dinner, there's one thing you really shouldn't include on the menu: lemon meringue pie. As Wiki notes, Joyce suffered an unfortunate experience with the desert in 2017 after Tony Overheu, a Western Australian farmer, decided to show his disgruntlement at the CEO's gay marriage advocacy by pushing a pie into his face at a business breakfast in Perth. Overheu was later fined $3,600 and slapped with a lifetime ban on flying with Qantas.

5. He's married

Joyce may have been in a long-term relationship with his partner, Shane Lloyd, since 1999, but it took him a long time to pop the question. The pair, who currently live in the historic inner-Sydney suburb of The Rocks, eventually tied the knot on 2 November 2019, nearly 2 years after the Yes vote on same-sex marriage. The glitzy ceremony took place on the rooftop of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Circular Quay in front of 120 family, friends and colleagues.

6. His math teacher was his first mentor

Joyce may well have got where he is today without his high school math teacher, Mrs. Moriarty, but she certainly didn't harm his chances. Joyce, who studied math and physics at Trinity College in Dublin, so impressed the teacher with his skills, she even called the headmaster into the classroom to watch the young prodigy display his talent for proving theorems on the blackboard. Whether she knew it or not, she was setting herself up as his first mentor - and showing him the importance of the role in the process. ''At an early stage, she showed me the power of the mentor," Joyce explained to the Sunday Morning Herald. "I have been lucky enough all the way through my career to have that, and I'm doing it myself now.''

7. He's been named the highest paid CEO in Australia

Given he's just 53 years old, there's certainly older CEO's than Joyce. There's probably no shortage of younger ones as well. But what there aren't many of is richer ones, at least in Australia. Until the recent COVID pandemic forced him to take a pay cut (stay tuned for more on that coming up), Joyce was earning the frankly staggering annual salary of $24 million, a figure that made him Australia's highest paid CEO by a considerable margin (not to mention the highest earning executive at Qantas).

8. He's taken an 83% pay cut

COVID may have increased sales of hand sanitizer and face masks, but it's not exactly done wonders for international travel. To say the industry has been dealt a hammer blow would be an understatement: with half of us confined to our homes, and the other half too worried about their job security to risk taking a vacation, 2020 has been the worst year in history for flight operators. It's probably not too surprising, then, that the industry's top earners have had the wings cut on the salaries. In Joyce's case, the impact has been significant: from earning $24 million in the 2016- 2017 financial year, he's now having to make do on 83% less, effectively meaning that since May this year, he's been working for free.

9. He's remaining optimistic

He may have taken a massive pay cut, and the bottom may have fallen out of the travel industry, but for now, Joyce is staying optimistic about the future. As reports, Joyce believes that travel in the COVID era could soon be possible thanks to pre-flight COVID-19 tests. Speaking at an aviation conference in September, Joyce said “There’s some great developments in testing that could resolve the problem of people having to go into quarantine”. The tests, which deliver results in just 15 minutes, could be used to determine “whether you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. If you pass, there’s no need to be in quarantine at the other end.”

10. He thinks Qantas will survive COVID

With many travelers grounded for the foreseeable future and no end to the pandemic in sight, we have to ask ourselves just how many airlines will survive the crisis. While the future of many might be in doubt, there's one that's all set to survive.... at least according to its CEO. According to Joyce, the structural changes that have taken place at Qantas over the past three years puts the airline in prime position to weather the storm. “I think we’ll do well in the (post-COVID) environment," he says via "The carriers that have the ability to fly very long distances, I think that will be an advantage. So, I have a lot of optimism that Qantas can get through this.”

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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