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Campaign for pilot to replace Cosgrove on Qantas board

February 5, 2014 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) called yesterday for a senior pilot to be appointed to the Qantas board to replace the outgoing General Peter Cosgrove.

AIPA President Nathan Safe congratulated General Cosgrove on his appointment as Governor-General, and noted the development presented Qantas with an ideal opportunity to follow the example of other leading global airlines – including Germany’s Lufthansa and several major US airlines – by appointing an individual with significant operational experience to the board.

Another, rather more militant union, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) urged Qantas to go further and cleanse its board of members without hands-on aviation experience. 250x250

AIPA, customarily a cautious union, argued that Qantas could benefit from emulating German methods of management.

“Qantas has nothing to lose and everything to gain from widening its channels of advice and engaging seriously at a board level with those who have significant operational experience in the airline,” Safe said.

“Pilots are ideal in this regard. You don’t get to be a Qantas pilot without a passion for aviation and a strong interest in how airlines and the broader industry operates.

“Qantas pilots tend to stay at the airline for their whole career, and those decades of experience mean a senior pilot could bring to the board table a level of corporate memory that would be extremely valuable.”

Safe said the appointment of pilots to the board was seen as vital in leading European and US airlines.

“Lufthansa – indeed, German companies generally – understand the value of having employees at the board level working for the advancement of the company,” Safe said.

“The perspective of long-term employees – and the potential innovation that opens up – is seen in Germany as being key to improving productivity in a high-cost economy.

“There is no doubt that Qantas could have benefited greatly in recent years by embracing a more open and collaborative relationship with its employees.

“The appointment of a pilot to the board would be a relatively easy step to take – but would, I believe, mark a significant step in reforming the management culture of Qantas.”

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon supported AIPA’s call for General Cosgrove’s replacement to be someone with direct aviation experience – but went further.

“Qantas is a great company with bad management,” Sheldon declared.

“The current Board includes three bankers, two miners and a tobacco executive, but no one who has worked in day-to-day airline services.

“It’s time for an employee representative, be that a pilot and engineer or a member of the ground staff – someone with direct experience in operating its planes.”

Sheldon said after 15 years of private ownership, Qantas was in economic crisis.

“Its share price has halved since 2009, to its lowest level since the 1990’s. It faces a half-year loss of AUD 300 million and 1000 more jobs to go this year.

“Yet executive pay has increased 82% since 2010.

“Qantas needs better management to fix its financial woes.

“A new board with direct industry experience would be an important step forward.”

The TWU said the Qantas Board currently had nine members, “including some who have held board and similar positions in airline head offices but none who have worked in or on planes. Principal qualifications for the majority of the Qantas Board are in non-aviation fields including banking, mining, tobacco and law”.

Written by : Peter Needham

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