The road ahead for new Qantas CEO

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When outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce steps down in November, newly appointed chief Vanessa Hudson has a number of challenges ahead of her, not least of which is the carrier’s capital expenditure bill, which has ballooned to $10.1 billion, double the figure in 2019.

Qantas has ordered about 80 aircraft over the next four years to replace some of its domestic and international fleet including the planes to service its Project Sunrise at a cost of $7.4 billion.

But some believe the figure will be higher, with financial analysts at UBS estimating Qantas will need to invest $12 billion to replace its aging fleet.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Hudson said she was confident the carrier could juggle its plans for fleet renewal and increased customer loyalty without blowing out the budget.

“We feel very confident that we can afford the renewal program,” she said.

“I think there’s a little bit of disconnect surrounding our renewal program and Project Sunrise that will occur over the next five years while the narrow bodies are over the next 10 years.

“There’s been a steep change in our cash flows. This change is structural, both in terms of the restructuring of our business that we’ve done, the improvements in our freight business, the incredible performance of our loyalty, business and also that we are very focused on hitting our FY 24 targets next year, which will further improve our cash flows.”

Joyce said the carrier’s strong share price indicates the market has faith in Hudson to carry out the deal for the new aircraft.

“The vast majority of shareholders and analysts believe we have the bandwidth to do this and provide the returns to shareholders,” he said.