Canberra– Alan Joyce, who was set to step down in November after 15 years as CEO of Qantas, will now depart the airline immediately amid mounting controversies surrounding the Australian flag carrier.

Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson will become Qantas’ first female boss when she succeeds Joyce on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

In a statement on Tuesday, Joyce said: “In the last few weeks, the focus on Qantas and events of the past make it clear to me that the company needs to move ahead with its renewal as a priority.

“The best thing I can do under these circumstances is to bring forward my retirement and hand over to Vanessa and the new management team now, knowing they will do an excellent job.

“There is a lot I am proud of over my 22 years at Qantas, including the past 15 years as CEO. There have been many ups and downs, and there is clearly much work still to be done, especially to make sure we always deliver for our customers. But I leave knowing that the company is fundamentally strong and has a bright future.”

In the past two years, Qantas has faced a slew of criticism for expensive airfares, mass delays and cancellations, and its treatment of workers, the BBC reported.

A week after the airline announced a record A$2.5 billion ($1.6 billion) profit,  the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) — the country’s consumer watchdog — said it was taking legal action against the flag carrier over allegations it had sold tickets to thousands of flights it had already cancelled.

The lawsuit, announced on August 31, means the airline is now facing legal action on three fronts.

It is also appealing against a ruling it illegally outsourced thousands of jobs during the Covid pandemic, and fighting a class action from customers over its inflexible flight credit scheme.

Shareholders are now under pressure from some groups, including some parliamentarians, to vote down Joyce’s final remuneration package, which is reportedly up to A$24 million.

In his statement on Tuesday, Joyce did not address these issues. (IANS)