Qantas Group CEO Allen Joyce will step down earlier than planned amid allegations that the Australian flagship carrier sold tickets for thousands of flights that had already been canceled.
Joyce had previously planned to retire in November, but instead agreed on Tuesday to make his retirement effective Sept. 6. As previously planned, Vanessa Hudson is Joyce's successor as CEO.
"In the last few weeks, the focus on Qantas and events of the past make it clear to me that the company needs to move ahead with its renewal as a priority," Joyce said in a prepared statement. "The best thing I can do under these circumstances is to bring forward my retirement."
The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission sued Qantas in an Australian federal court on Aug. 31, alleging that the airline kept selling tickets on more than 8,000 flights between May and July of 2022, even though those flights had been canceled.
The canceled flights remained on sale via the Qantas website for an average of more than two weeks, according to the ACCC. It also alleged that Qantas did not inform ticket holders for more than 10,000 flights scheduled for July 2022 that their flights had been canceled. Notification delays averaged 18 days.
"We allege that Qantas' conduct in continuing to sell tickets to canceled flights, and not updating ticketholders about canceled flights, left customers with less time to make alternative arrangements and may have led to them paying higher prices to fly at a particular time not knowing that flight had already been canceled," said Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the ACCC's chair.
On Monday, Qantas issued an apology to customers.
"The period of time that the ACCC's claims relate to, in mid-2022, was one of well-publicized upheaval and uncertainty across the aviation industry, as Qantas struggled to restart post-Covid," the airline said. "We openly acknowledge that our service standards fell well short and we sincerely apologize. We have worked hard to fix them since, and that work continues."