* Joyce, 52, has led the Australian carrier since 2008
* Airline aims for Sydney-London non-stop flights from 2022
* Changes to roles of direct reports announced on Wednesday
By Jamie Freed
SINGAPORE, May 1 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce has agreed to stay in his role for at least three more years, in a move that could allow him to oversee the airline’s launch of the world’s longest ever commercial flights between Sydney and London.
The commitment from Joyce, 52, who has led the carrier since Nov. 2008 and overseen a major financial turnaround, came as the airline announced changes in the roles of his direct reports, laying the groundwork for a potential internal successor.
“What I’ve always said about my tenure is that I’ll stay for as long as the board and the shareholders want me and as long as I’m enjoying the job and feel I have more I can give to it,” Joyce said on Wednesday, after The Sydney Morning Herald reported his decision to stay on at the helm.
“Qantas is an amazing company,” he said in a statement.
“We celebrate 100 years next year and I’m really excited for what’s in the pipeline over the next few years.”
Qantas hopes to order jets capable of flying non-stop from Sydney to London later this year in preparation for flights in 2022 if it can gain approvals from pilots and Australia’s aviation regulator for the record-long journeys, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The airline, which has always promoted internal candidates to the CEO role, on Wednesday announced Chief Financial Officer Tino La Spina would head its international business from Oct. 1, replacing Alison Webster who resigned last month.
The current chief customer officer, Vanessa Hudson, will replace La Spina.
Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans, considered by analysts and investors as a favourite to replace Joyce, will remain in his current role heading the airline’s budget division.
Qantas in February reported a 19 percent drop in first-half underlying profit before tax to A$780 million ($550 million) due to higher fuel prices, but said it expected a stronger second half based on solid forward bookings.
The airline’s shares have fallen 1.6 percent since Jan. 1. ($1 = 1.4176 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar)