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Curtain comes down as Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth takes her final bow


The Flying Kangaroo is running a broom through the head office, with another major change in its senior management ranks.

Outgoing Qantas CEO, Olivia Wirth.

The revolving door is still spinning at Qantas HQ, with the Flying Kangaroo today confirming its long-serving executive Olivia Wirth will head for the exit after 14 years in various senior roles with the airline.

Wirth will depart her current role as Qantas Loyalty CEO in February next year to “pursue other opportunities”, with a process to appoint her successor now underway.

Under Wirth’s leadership, the Qantas Loyalty division, which encompasses its eponymous Qantas Frequent Flyer program, has expanded both its membership base and product offering significantly, adding a wider array of hotels and accommodation options, package holidays, financial products and insurance services along with more than three million new members.

The departure of Wirth continues the shake-up of the Qantas executive team which stretches back to February this year with the departure of then-Qantas Domestic CEO, Andrew David.

Since then, Qantaslink CEO John Gissing has declared his intention to retire, while more recently, Qantas said goodbye to polarising CEO Alan Joyce and revealed plans for Chairman Richard Goyder and two other Directors to part ways with the airline.

Other recent changes at Qantas include Rob Marcolina taking on Hudson’s former role as Chief Financial Officer; Markus Svensson taking Andrew David’s former role as Qantas Domestic CEO; Catriona Larritt starting as Chief Customer and Digital Officer – a role once held by Wirth – and Andrew Monaghan starting as Chief Risk Officer.

A replacement for John Gissing as Qantaslink CEO is yet to be named.

Incoming Chief People Officer, Catherine Walsh.

“Olivia’s contribution to this company over many years has been enormous,” said Qantas Group CEO, Vanessa Hudson.

“As CEO of Loyalty, she drove huge expansion of what the program offers and that shows in the growth of members and their engagement levels.”

Prior to Wirth’s departure, Qantas will welcome a new face to its leadership team with Catherine Walsh appointed to the role of Chief People Officer – one of several new positions introduced by Qantas earlier this year.

Walsh brings 25 years of experience to her new role with major organisations including Australia Post. In her new role, she will be tasked with growing the relationship between the executive team and its 25,000-strong workforce and their respective unions once she begins in January 2024.

Reporting directly to Hudson, Walsh will also oversee recruitment across the group as the airline seeks to fill thousands of new positions as new aircraft are brought into the fleet in the coming months and years.

“Ultimately, building a stronger culture and better relationships with our people is one of my highest priorities and shared responsibility across management,” Hudson added.

“As our Chief People Officer, Catherine will support those collective efforts by ensuring we always value the incredible contribution our people make to this organisation and listen to their insights, especially as we welcome thousands more to the Group to support our growth.”

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 16 October 2023

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