Most would agree that it’s hard to feel sorry for Qantas. Like a stubborn old aunt, they appear all too comfortable with the reputation they’ve created over the years, and unwilling to change.
With the advent of budget airlines around the world, and the success of Virgin, they refuse to make their ticket prices competitive, or upgrade their
cabin crew airplanes. Sure they acquired a couple of A380 jets, but we are well aware of how quickly the shine from these new jewels dulled.
They don’t even strive to generate feelings of warmth and patriotism in their advertising anymore. So how do they make us feel about them?
Unless you are a loyal Qantas die-hard, you may feel indifferent towards them. At worst, dismissive.
You might feel that if they had enough money and clout to overcome PR disasters such as mid-air Rolls-Royce engine explosions, and emergency landings, then they might have been strong enough to deal with the rumblings of a few unions. Perhaps you’re slightly disturbed by their nonsensical association with John Travolta. You could be forgiven for thinking Qantas are a little smug.
However, perhaps there is a disconnect between the shininess of the Qantas brand, and the reality of the company’s financial situation.
If the one they call Alan Joyce had been CEO of a struggling fashion label, and grounded his seamstresses who demanded more money, would we have been more forgiving? Perhaps if he were CEO of a publicly flailing book store chain, we would have been more understanding of all involved parties.
Could it be that Qantas’s brand position as the safest, the most reliable, and the most premium airline in Australia have distracted us from the fact that they are just another business struggling to make a profit in a post GFC world?
Much of the media coverage this issue received encouraged people to view it as a union vs corporate matter, and it worked. Australians were having impassioned conversations across the country, whilst in the blogosphere people were slandering Qantas and even defacing images of their CEO.
I was curious as to why people felt so strongly on the subject, and why so many felt so justified in expressing anger at Alan Joyce’s bold decision to ground the entire Qantas fleet.
Hindsight is 20/20 and perhaps Alan Joyce now wishes the company had waited til the New Year before announcing his $2m pay rise, but I don’t think this was the only reason there was such outrage.
I think that many Australians didn’t feel the heavy handed nature of Alan Joyce’s decision was very becoming of the flying kangaroo we once loved, the brand we thought we knew.
In this current economic climate, whether you are a restaurant owner selling pizzas, or an airline selling plane tickets, it’s not that easy to make a profit at the moment. The aviation industry has long been a notoriously difficult one to be in, even at the best of times.
The reality is that most Australians in fact do not fly Qantas internationally. So therefore, no matter which point of view you support, the unions, or the capitalists, the chances are that you’re probably not supporting Qantas at all one way or the other.
And why should you? You have a right as a consumer to choose the most affordable option available to you. Alan Joyce would probably argue that as a CEO of a privately owned business, he has a right to choose the most affordable option available to him in order to carry out the duty he is charged with; keeping Qantas profitable and the shareholders happy.