Alan Joyce and Qantas: The trials and transformation of an Australian icon
Penguin, $36.99 pb, 400 pp
Nearly everyone in Australia has a story about bad airline service, and many of those stories involve Qantas, whose ‘mishandled bag rate’ recently doubled and flight cancellations tripled. The formerly smooth and efficient Sydney-Melbourne run is now a dispiriting ordeal.
Widespread anger at Qantas provides the context and backdrop for Peter Harbison’s revelatory book (with Derek Sadubin) about ‘the oldest continuously operating airline in the world’. At a sprightly pace, the book walks through Qantas’s recent history of turbulence. Industrial disputes, corporate machinations, and pandemic challenges punctuate the rollercoaster. In 2007, an attempted private-equity buy-out failed, evidently because a hard-to-get United States investor intended to agree at the last minute but miscalculated the time difference, faxing his confirmation ‘five hours too late’.