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DESPITE CLAIMS of a vigorous selection process, Qantas didn’t have to look too far to find the next boss of the Flying Kangaroo.

Vanessa Hudson will become the next CEO when current incumbent Alan Joyce steps down in November. Ms Hudson is currently the Group’s Chief Financial Officer and has been with the company for more than 28 years. She will be the first female CEO in the company’s history.

“It’s an absolute honour to be asked to lead the national carrier,” said Ms Hudson.

“This is an exceptional company full of incredibly talented people and it’s very well positioned for the future.

“My focus will be delivering for those we rely on and who rely on us – our customers, our employees, our shareholders and the communities we serve.”

Ms Hudson will be the company’s 13th CEO in 103 years when Mr Joyce steps down after 15 years in the top job.

“There’s still a lot I want to deliver in the next six months and at the top of that list is ensuring a smooth handover to Vanessa, who I’m sure will excel in the role,” Mr Joyce said.

Ms Hudson joined Qantas in 1994. Since then, she has held a variety of senior commercial, customer and finance roles across the Group, in Australia and overseas.

In these various roles her responsibilities ranged from sales channels, revenue management and network planning, to transformation in catering, airports and network.

Ms Hudson became the Group’s Chief Financial Officer in 2019 and held this portfolio through the COVID crisis, when sudden border closures saw revenue evaporate in a matter of weeks.

Careful management through this period – including equity raising, debt raising and asset sales – saw the company make it through the crisis and ultimately emerge with a stronger balance sheet than pre-COVID.

The new CEO in waiting has a Bachelor of Business and was admitted as a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1994. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.

“A lot of thought has gone into this succession and the Board had a number of high-quality candidates to consider, both internally and externally,” said Richard Goyder, Chairman of Qantas.

“Vanessa has a deep understanding of this business after almost three decades in a range of roles both onshore and offshore, across commercial, customer and finance.

“She has a huge amount of airline experience and she’s an outstanding leader.”

Vanessa Hudson


VIRGIN AUSTRALIA has extended its Middle Seat Lottery competition with more prizes up-for-grabs.

More than 240,000 people entered the competition since launching six months ago, with the promotion receiving global media coverage.

The lottery will now feature an additional 11 weekly prizes until July 9, valued at more than $45,000.

Included among the prize pool are return flights to Tokyo with Virgin Australia and 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer Points, return flights to Europe with Qatar Airways and a tropical North Queensland getaway.

“We know the middle seat is a bug bear for traveller’s globally which is why the competition has been so popular,” said Libby Minogue, Virgin Australia Group Chief Marketing Officer.

“Some of our guests are intentionally choosing to sit in the middle seat and I think that speaks volumes to how successful the innovation has been.”

Virgin Australia launched the initiative following a survey on the airline’s social media channels in May last year which found that less than one per cent of its passengers intentionally select the middle seat as their preference when flying.


ONE OF Australia’s first boutique hotels is running an offer on weekend bookings as part of a special promotion.

Islington Hotel in Hobart boasts 175 years of history in Tasmania and has just joined the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), a collection of more than 520 independently owned luxury hotels in more than 90 countries.

To welcome Islington Hotel to the portfolio, SLH is currently offering 20 per cent off the best available rate on weekend bookings from now until May 31 for stays until September 30.

The promotion comes as SLH sets its sights on Australia as a priority market for brand expansion in the Pacific region.

“Small Luxury Hotels is a community of unique and characterful people and places, each naturally immersed in their local destination, and with community and consideration for the environment at their heart centre,” said Mark Wong, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

“We’re independently minded, independently spirited and intimate in our approach, and we know this is what the luxury Australian traveller is seeking, now more than ever, from a travel experience.”


Rewards to be Found at Risk Event

A FULL program of speakers will be present at a Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference to be held in Sydney on May 15.

Organised by The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), the event will be relevant to key scenarios of crisis and risk across the travel industry.

Speakers will include Chad Carey, Managing Director, Chimu Adventures, who will share a review of crisis in action and how travel businesses must be prepared for the unexpected.

Aaron Zoanetti, Partner & Travel Law Specialist, Pointon Partners and CATO Board Director, will cover the topic of Legal Essentials – Agent or Principal.

Brad Kelly, Director, Gow Gates Insurance, will look at the reality of travel risk, the value of assessing and understanding your vulnerability and risk aversion.

Roslyn Ranse, Founder of Travel Agent Achievers, will moderate a panel of experts from across different sectors, who will share their view on changing landscapes and what the future may hold for each of their specialties.

These will include the adventure, student, touring, FIT and youth sectors.

The event takes place at Novotel Sydney Central.


THERE ARE eight spots up for grabs in a new famil incentive that will see travel agents visit Hawaii.

The trip will take place in October and will give agents the opportunity to explore and update their knowledge on The Hawaiian Islands.

The promotion has been launched to celebrate Month of Lei and has been organised by Hawaii Tourism Oceania (HTO) and Hawaiian Airlines.

Key representatives from the Hawaiian Islands are currently in Australia for the first time in four years. More than 40 agents attended an event in Sydney recently with further meetings held in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Month of Lei is a signature campaign for HTO to celebrate Hawaiian culture, the uniqueness of each individual island and engage both trade partners and consumers with the spirit of aloha.

To earn a place on the famil, agents must book a flight with Hawaiian Airlines to Oahu and at least one other Hawaiian island. Minimum four return tickets ex. Australia before June 30.

Entrants must also share “A perfect Hawaiian Islands Itinerary” incorporating multi-island experiences and submit to HTO (minimum 100 words). Finally, agents must complete at least two training modules on and submit their certificate along with their itinerary.


CRUISERS CAN now bid for a better stateroom than they originally booked as part of a new online upgrade auction launched by P&O Cruises Australia.

The ‘Upgrade Me’ program allows travellers to potentially save hundreds of dollars by bidding for ocean view, balcony, mini suites, suites and penthouses, compared to the regular price.

Between 70 and three days prior to sailing, cruisers who have paid their final balance on existing bookings at least five days earlier will be invited to place a bid to upgrade their cabin to any category higher than the one they are currently in, based on availability.

Successful bids earn the additional perks that come with that particular stateroom category, such as access to the Byron Beach Club.

Each traveller can only place one bid per category but will improve their chances if placing bids on multiple categories. Travellers who hold Future Cruise Credit can also put this towards their bid.

“There’s so much anticipation that comes with counting down the days to your holiday,” said Marguerite Fitzgerald, President of P&O Cruises Australia.

“The closer that day comes, we know that people start looking for those extras that will make their experience even more special and this is a great value way of doing just that.”