Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson
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New Qantas boss Vanessa Hudson has apologised to customers and promised now is the time for the airline to reset and deliver a better service to Australians and its workers.

Hudson, just two weeks into the top job, apologised on behalf of the business to customers for letting them down "in many ways" but has promised to focus on listening to all stakeholders as the company moves forward.

"I am sorry. We haven't delivered the way we should have and we have been often hard to deal with," she said in a video message.

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Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson

"We understand why you're frustrated and why some of you have lost trust in us."

She said workers have "tried their absolute best" under difficult circumstances and committed to fixing the issues plaguing the airline.

"We understand we need to earn your trust back not with what we say but with what we do."

'Opportunity to reset': Hudson on taking leadership reigns

Hudson also spoke with the media following the video message and set out her plan for leading the company through torrid times.

Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson

"I am determined to fix it, I'm listening, I've heard what customers have said and we're focused moving forward not just to fix the pain points but to deliver more value to frequent flyers and to deliver operationally to the high standard customers expect of us," she said.

"And when things don't go to plan, because things often won't, that we recover better and empower our people to do that.

"There's an opportunity now to reset."

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Baggage is loaded onto a Qantas jet at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.

What will the airline do differently?

From putting more people in call centres, establishing more frequent flyer seats, reviewing all customer policies to ensure they're fair and giving frontline teams more flexibility, Hudson said these measures are just the beginning.

"This is going to take time and I ask for your patience," Hudson said.

She said over the next year the airline is investing in new aircraft, which will open new routes.

The company is also looking to onboard more staff, which Hudson said will be better for the economy.

In terms of airfares – which have been exorbitantly high amid strong demand, low capacity and high fuel prices – Hudson said they'll stay at the current "low" level.

Vanessa Hudson and Alan Joyce

Hudson a 'very different' leader to Joyce

She took the top job as Alan Joyce's successor earlier this month after the former CEO entered earlier than expected retirement.

Hudson said her leadership style is very different to Joyce's with a focus on listening.

"I am someone who listens and also hears, and when I hear, we are going to act," she said.

"I want to build deeper connections with our people."

She said she was approachable, collaborative and wanted diversity in opinions and ideas.

But the bottom line, she said, was that she was passionate about the organisation and the people.

"I am going to be someone who is very visible," she said.

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Hudson responds to recent controversies

The airline's reputation has taken a battering with one headline after another, from Australia's high court finding its outsourcing of almost 1700 jobs during the pandemic illegal.

Hudson responded to the high court finding saying the organisation accepted the decision and has issued another apology.

"We regret very much having to make that decision and in this moment I would like to apologise to the workers who were impacted by that," she said.

"I am focused on working through the mediation and making sure we reach a settlement as quickly and reasonably as possible."

There was the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's legal action against the airline after it was accused of breaking consumer law by allegedly advertising tickets for thousands of cancelled flights and failing to tell customers about ticket cancellations.


Hudson said Qantas takes the allegations "very seriously".

"There could have been things we have done better during that period as it was an incredibly difficult time," she said.

"The notion we took fees for no service, that is not right, our primary motivation through that period when we cancelled flights was to get customers on the next available flight."

Then the record pre-tax profits of $2.5 billion while customers faced high flight prices and delays.

Qantas was deemed the "13th most distrusted brand in the economy" in August by research firm Roy Morgan.

Just three years prior, the national carrier was the third most trusted brand.

Hudson said her goal was to lift Qantas back to the national carrier "Australians are proud of" and trust.

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