Qantas CEO Was Australia’s Highest Paid Executive

Filed Under: Qantas

Executive compensation is an especially contentious topic in the US, though it seems we’re not alone.

Qantas CEO Was Australia’s Highest Paid Executive

There’s now widespread coverage around compensation for executives in Australia during the 2018 fiscal year, with Australia’s highest paid executive being Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

He took home nearly 24 million AUD, making him the highest paid ASX100 CEO. His 23,876,351 AUD in compensation just barely beat out Macquarie Group’s CEO earning 23,855,580 AUD.

To me that’s pretty remarkable. While airline CEOs are generally well paid, I can’t think of another situation where an airline executive was the top paid executive in the entire country.

As a point of comparison, the previous year Joyce earned “only” ~11.2 million AUD, making him the eighth best paid executive in the country.

So, how did he earn so much, and how did his pay jump that much? His base pay was just over 2 million AUD, and a large part of that compensation came in the form of the increased stock value.

It’s pointed out that Qantas’ value increased from 2.5 billion AUD to 10 billion AUD during that period, so the share price increased by about 350%.

While there will be strong opinions on both sides for executive compensation, we can all agree that’s a period during which Qantas did really well. To what extent the CEO should be rewarded for that (rather than employees) is something that’s up for debate.

Comparing That To Another CEO

In my opinion what’s much worse is when CEOs at airlines get compensated well for poor performance. I’m not thinking of any airline in particular, but theoretically:

  • Imagine if you ran an airline where the stock price started the year at $52.33 and ended the year at $32.09
  • Imagine earning pre-tax profits of $1.9 billion, or $2.8 billion excluding net special items, when you promised that your airline would earn a minimum of $3 billion in profits in a bad year
  • Imagine still earning $12 million, and being the second highest paid airline executive in the US

Like I said, this is all theoretical. 😉

What do you guys think — is Alan Joyce’ nearly 24 million AUD in compensation well deserved, or excessive?

  1. The shareholders put him there to increase the value of the stock. If it really did grow four-fold, it’s not surprising… Now did the staff below get a little bit of an increased bonus? It’s not shocking if all employees benefit in the end.

  2. Alan Joyce manufactured the losses (and thus deflated share price) through conveniently timed write downs in the value of assets, and then expects plaudits when the share price goes up. Are we forgetting this is the same man who grounded the entire fleet and left passengers stranded?


  3. Total ripoff by Joyce…the arch-manipulator, skilled in sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors. Send the oily little toad on his way and get someone more ethical. He’ll be well-suited to a role back in Ireland, where dodgy deals, chicanery and duplicity go hand in hand with the major industry: tax evasion. A perfect candidate.

  4. Elon Musk total compensation in 2018 was $513 million even though Tesla lost over $1 billion. However in cash he is paid minimum wage in order to comply with local employment laws. You have to dig below the numbers in order to get the true picture. If the stock goes below the grant price he earns nothing. Interesting to see the numbers, nothing to get all roiled up about.

  5. @ dfw88 — Yep, well aware. But with American’s performance he should be paid in Oreos and not stock options, IMO.

  6. @ Ben (Lucky)

    You are being too generous in having Doug Parker being paid in Oreos. He should be paid in American’s first class onboard meal offerings as Oreos are a true delight compared to the food served in first onboard. Then maybe we would have some decent food in first class onboard. LOL

  7. Funny to read all armchair airline industry experts sharing their views on how a CEO should be compensated. If you guys are so good, why don’t you take his job and claim his salary?

  8. This is Australia so of course the top 10 highest-paid CEO’s are all men. But it got me to thinking, has there ever been a woman CEO at a major airline? Has anyone ever written anything about how that might explain some of the problems with the airline industry?

  9. @Ross ‘this is Australia so of course the top 10 highest-paid CEOs are all men’. So you recognise that Australian male CEOs ARE capable and deserve their paycheck? I’m curious what are the problems with the airline industry that can be explained by having a female CEO. The way I see it, if you possess the necessary requirements to be a CEO, you’ll become the CEO. It’s been 9 months since Anne Rigail was appointed AF CEO and we haven’t heard anything about her coming up with an amazing solution to any of the problems in the airline industry or even within AF.

  10. @Joe Thanks for the reminder about Air France. Trying to remember, where was I just reading some favorable reviews about that place?

  11. Joe – People benefiting from privilege rarely see it happening.

    It’s always an interesting argument though because, if you deny there is any kind of bias, then you’re effectively saying that men are superior to women.

  12. Slight correction – Qantas’ value did not go up 350% in FY18 (was up under 10%). Probably has done so during his tenure but isn’t an exact correlation for FY18 pay.

  13. @Oscar – The airline was grounded to break the rolling strikes. Alan Joyce had a major set of balls to do what he did, and it solved the issue. Sure a few people got an extra days holiday, but there were no more strikes since that event.

    Recent news of the other Australian airline reads “Virgin Australia will review its flights and slash 750 jobs after posting a “disappointing” full-year loss of $349.1 million.” – Looks to me like Alan should be rewarded for making Qantas profitable again.

    @Alex, yes, all staff received an increased bonus too.

  14. Ross and Callum-it’s all over all the internet, this blog included though not necessarily due to Anne Rigail’s work as the CEO. Lucky’s been raving about La Premiere treatment even before AF-KLM got their new CEO who is, surprise surprise, a male with a proven track record. Ben Smith was appointed CEO because he has shown he can lead an airline, and by the same merit Rigaile was appointed CEO because she is considered to have the most experience with AF and thus has the capability to lead it, not because the shape of their genitals. Still waiting for the explanation on how the absence of female CEOs might explain some of the issues in the airline industry.

    Not sure what privilege are you talking about. I know I got my job because the company was after some specific skills I have, not because I have a penis. I recruit and promote based on performance, not based on whether they have testicles or not. Even if I deny any bias and it turns out that men are better at certain things, what’s the harm in admitting that? Being good in some areas doesn’t mean the whole population is the supreme gender to be worshipped. I’m not interested in claiming superiority, if someone did a good job I’ll applaud. Open your eyes and try looking beyond gender, there are many other factors at play before appointing someone as CEO. This article is about Lucky’s surprise at the fact that an airline CEO earns the highest in the country, why did you feel the need to bring up a completely unrelated topic?

  15. Why should he be rewarded further when his base salary is already over $2,000,000?

    Anyone on $2,000,000 should be doing an absolutely outstanding job.

    Why should there be incentives on top of that? I do not understand why people are saying he should get so much extra on top of that for doing “a good job” when anyone on that sort of base salary should be doing stunning work implicitly.

  16. Of course he deserves the money. He took the tickets, handed out boarding passes, loaded the luggage, flew the plane and served meals. As Spike Milligan said ‘I’m not thanking anyone because I did it all myself’

  17. I wnder what Big Al Sheik BAker is on at Qatar for ripping the crap out of the FF program, stealing from customers and losing USD 639,000,000 last year? Does anyone know?

  18. [email protected]
    I am Australian and find Alan Joyce to be one of the most despicable CEO’s in the country. He is constantly penny pinching qantas’ staff remuneration and delaying their wage increases of $1500 -2000 by up to 3 years and linking the increase to signing workplace agreements so effectively using subpar wage to blackmail staff. I don’t work for qantas but am a frequent flyer; and I’m ashamed that he is our national carrier’s CEO. Luckily he is disliked by most Australians for his behaviour which is considered grossly unfair. His salary increase is the icing on the cake and cements his place as one of the most despised CEO’s in the country.

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