The president of UAE flag carrier Emirates has defended codeshare partner Qantas, saying he has faith the brand will be restored.
Speaking to Ross Greenwood on Sky News, Sir Tim Clark acknowledged that Qantas has had “a torrid time”, but said former CEO Alan Joyce had done a good job guiding the Flying Kangaroo through the pandemic, especially considering the Australian Government’s restrictive border policies.
The intervention from Clark comes not long after a study by consultancy firm Brand Finance found Qantas had slid from Australia’s strongest brand to the 41st spot in just five years.
“COVID was a disrupter that the global economy has never seen. Qantas was not immune from the effects of that, and what happened, happened. When you look at the pace at which Australia opened up post COVID, it bore no resemblance to what the rest of the world was doing,” he said.
“If you’re trying to run a domestic operation international operation, a given that it’s a publicly listed company, and given that they had all the financial parameters that they had to match, not the least of which was survival, I thought at the time that Alan was doing quite a good job.
“They had a sort of triple storm of things happening to them, which we as the airline community also faced.”
Emirates has codeshared with Qantas since 2013, with the ACCC last year giving the green light to renew the partnership through 2028. The deal was inked under Joyce, who Clark said at times was “the hero in the media” in Australia before expressing confidence in new CEO Vanessa Hudson.
Joyce resigned in a cloud of controversy last year over operational issues, as well as criticism over COVID-19 credits and a number of legal battles including with the ACCC over allegations Qantas had sold tickets to flights it had already cancelled.
“We have a new leadership team in Qantas, who are utterly focused, laser focused on placating the concerns of the travelling public in Australia, restoring the brand to its former glory, by doing the basics that people want, and talking to Vanessa and the team over the last few days, it is clear to me that they are not going to compromise on that,” said Clark.
“I think eventually, where Qantas used to be up there as one of the top brands, it’ll get there, and sooner rather than later, and the rest will be history.
“For us, we’re vested in Qantas as a success, and what it does. We’re a firm believer that it was the right move that we took all those years ago, we continue to believe that this partnership will develop and provide a range of products, goods and services for the communities that we serve, both in Australia and outside.”