Qantas continues to test its loyalty at the top

Another week has past and another executive is bidding bon voyage to Qantas. Adam Bishop reports on the latest casualty of the carrier's quest to revamp its battered image.

ONLY months after losing a tight race to Vanessa Hudson to become the next Qantas CEO, the carrier’s head of loyalty Olivia Wirth has tendered her resignation.

She becomes the latest executive in a flurry of changes at the top for the airline, after long-standing CEO Alan Joyce and Chair Richard Goyder both decided, albeit under extreme pressure, to either exit or announce plans to expedite their departure plans.

Olivia Wirth was appointed CEO of Qantas Loyalty in February 2018, and over that time has presided over a period of strong growth for the company’s frequent flyer arm.

Highlights have included expanding loyalty initiatives across a variety of sectors, growing the membership ranks to new levels, and consistently delivering strong profits – even through the turbluence of the pandemic.

Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson said Wirth’s contributions over the years had been “enormous”.

“During COVID, loyalty was one of the few parts of our business that was able to carry on, which took a lot of hard work and imagination and there are many improvements for customers in the pipeline that Olivia will continue working on with her team over the next few months, as part of setting this part of the business up for continued success,” Hudson said.

“As well as the other senior roles she held, Olivia has been a member of the Group Management Committee for more than a decade and on behalf of the organisation I’d like to sincerely thank her for everything she’s done.

Reflecting on her own 14-year tenure at Qantas, Wirth gushed that Qantas had been a “massive part” of her professional life

“At its core, Qantas is an incredible company and brand and I’ve loved being part of it and i’m extremely proud of what the team at loyalty has achieved and I’m looking forward to delivering more improvements for members before I leave,” she said.

Wirth joined Qantas in 2009 and has held several position over that times, including the role of Chief Customer Officer, Group Executive, Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs and Group Executive for Government Relations and Corporate Affairs.

Prior to joining Qantas, she had held senior executive roles for a number of organisations including lobby group The Tourism and Transport Forum and the Australian Tourist Commission.

Olivia is on the Board of UNICEF Australia and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and only this momth, was appointed as an independent non-executive Director for Myer.

In further recruitment news, Qantas also revealed it has appointed Catherine Walsh to the role of Chief People Officer.

Prior to joining, Walsh held senior HR roles with Australia Post, Downer and Spotless.

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