Qantas names finance chief Vanessa Hudson as next CEO, becoming first woman to lead the airline

Hudson was appointed as the new CEO of Qantas Airways, making her one of the few female executives leading an airline.

Qantas names finance chief Vanessa Hudson as next CEO, becoming first woman to lead the airline

Qantas' flagship airline, Australia, named Vanessa Hudson, its chief financial officer, as its new CEO on Tuesday, making her first woman to head the century-old carrier.

The company announced that Hudson will replace Alan Joyce who is retiring in November.

Hudson, who has been with Qantas for 28 years, held many senior positions, including Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President for the Americas & New Zealand.

Richard Goyder, Qantas chairman, said: "Vanessa has been a key member of our group management committee for the past five-years, and she handled the finances and treasury during the Covid Crisis with outstanding professionalism."

The broader index fell 0.17%, while Qantas shares opened at a 2.5% loss.

Hudson is now one of only a few women to be the CEO of an airline. Virgin Australia's Jayne Hrdlicka was also a female executive.

Owen Birrell, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said that Vanessa has been working in the market as CFO for almost a year. This will have helped her prepare well for Qantas' CEO role.

Succession planning

Joyce, 56 years old, was Qantas' CEO for over 14 years. She helped the airline navigate through the Covid-19 Pandemic, fluctuating oil prices and competition.

As a result of a booming travel demand, a population that is shedding years of pandemic restrictions has pushed up fares and profits.

Goyder stated that "this transition occurs at a time in which the Qantas Group has a very strong position."

Qantas announced that Hudson will continue to serve in her current position until 2023, when she will become the 13th CEO of Qantas.

Qantas said that it would make an announcement in the coming months about a new Chief Financial Officer.