Another one bites the dust: Qantas shares drop 2% on loyalty departure

There seems to be an exodus of senior management happening at Qantas…

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It's been a rough start for the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) and most ASX 200 shares so far this Monday. The ASX 200 has lost 0.22% of its value at the time of writing, putting the index down to around 7,035 points. But let's talk about Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) shares.

The Qantas share price has had an even more torrid start to the trading week than the broader markets today. Qantas shares closed at $5.02 each last Friday. But today, the airline stock opened at $4.96 and is currently trading at $4.93 each, down a hefty 1.8%.

The latest news out of the national carrier might be responsible for investors' apathy towards the Qantas share price today.

Another airline executive bites the dust

This morning, Qantas confirmed the departure of yet another one of its management team. In an ASX announcement, the airline has confirmed that Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth has resigned.

Wirth has been head of Qantas Loyalty, which is the division responsible for the airline's popular Frequent Flyer program, since 2018. She is slated to depart Qantas for good in February 2024.

Additionally, Qantas has also revealed the appointment of Catherine Walsh as Qantas' new 'chief people officer', to begin in January 2024. Walsh was previously an executive at the accounting firm PWC.

Commenting on the departure of Wirth, newly installed Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson had this to say:

Olivia's contribution to this company over many years has been enormous. As CEO of Loyalty, she drove huge expansion of what the program offers and that shows in the growth in members and their engagement levels…

As well as the other senior roles she held, Olivia has been a member of the Group Management Committee for more than a decade and on behalf of the organisation I'd like to sincerely thank her for everything she's done.

Walsh's departure is just the latest in a dramatic exodus that investors have witnessed out of Qantas in recent weeks and months.

As we reported just last week, investors seemed excited at the news that Qantas chair Richard Goyder will be leaving the company at the next annual general meeting in 2024.

Goyder's announcement follows former CEO Alan Joyce's departure in September. Three other Qantas board members – Jacqueline Hey, Michael L'Estrage and Maxine Brenner – will also be leaving the airline in the next few months.

This flurry of resignations amongst Qantas' top brass follows months of scandal for the airline, including the revelation that Qantas' sacking of 1,700 workers turned out to be illegal.

So these latest changes in the Qantas management team seem to be putting investors off if today's share price movements are anything to go by. Investors don't tend to like to see turmoil at the top of a company, and Wirth's departure certainty doesn't seem to be going down too well today. But let's see what happens for the company going forward.

Qantas share price snapshot

The Qantas share price has been in freefall for months now. Since topping out at a new 52-week high of $6.94 a share in June, Qantas shares have tanked by around 30%. The airline is also down 17.1% in 2023 so far, and down 15.5% over the past 12 months:

Performance of Qantas shares

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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