SOUNDING BOARD: From high profits to high drama, Qantas' fall from grace is one for the books. So, what will it take for the flying kangaroo to rebuild trust and reputation?
Can Qantas possibly make a comeback at this stage? And what will it take for the brand to rebuild trust and win over the public once again?
Mark Forbes, Director of Icon Reputation
Qantas can’t market itself out of this mess. This convergence of crises must be met with tangible improvements in performance, an acceptance of past mistakes and a new broom approach. Qantas, and its now ex-CEO Alan Joyce, is the man-made bird who flew too close to the sun, parlaying their national carrier status and unblemished safety record—along with a massive marketing spend—to become Australia’s favourite airline, with unparalleled influence on government.
Now, it is clear that Qantas has fallen far short of its marketing, with mainstream and social media propagating stories of lost luggage, skyrocketing prices, delays, cancellations and selling thousands of tickets on non-existent flights. Catastrophically, this coincides with the news that Canberra, seeking to protect Qantas from ‘disruption’, has blocked Qatar Airlines from flying more planes into Melbourne and Sydney—demonstrating that Qantas wants to keep airfares high.
Joyce’s replacement, Vanessa Hudson, should promise a new start, a reset from the COVID and Joyce era to return to the reliable, caring Qantas of old. It should compensate customers, settle lawsuits and welcome competition. Most importantly, there must be tangible commitments to improved service. Reputations can be rebuilt, but it takes contrition, action, and time.