It's fair to say that the Australian public has lost confidence in the flying kangaroo.
In the news again this week after Chairman Richard Goyder bowed to shareholder pressure to step down from the airline's board next year, new Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson has a huge job ahead of her to steady a plane that has lost both engines, and re-inspire the love of a brand that is no longer revered by its people.
But when public confidence has reached rock bottom and the culture of the organisation is beyond repair, how does a new leader restart the engines?
With this mantra in mind ... "people are our greatest priority".
Because it would seem to me that former CEO Alan Joyce led Qantas with the old adage "people are our greatest assets" in mind, approaching both customers and employees as a line on the balance sheet rather than humans with thoughts and feelings.
It appears that Alan Joyce may have overstayed his time in the cockpit.
When a company goes through this kind of severe turbulence, how on earth does a new CEO steady the nerves of their passengers?
And is Vanessa Hudson going to be able to bring a fresh approach to her new position after being part of Qantas for 29 years and a key player in its most recent executive team?
How easy will it be for her to build rapport, gain buy-in and establish the trust and respect necessary to bring everyone in Qantas together as a united company?
With her experience across a range of areas of finance, in-flight services, products and customer service, there might be a chance.
But what power dynamics will the board and shareholders play?
Will Vanessa blaze a new trail and be empowered to do so? Or will the ghosts of CEOs past haunt her tenure?
Approaching a shift in focus from the bottom line to people first is going to be more challenging than trying to turn a cruise ship around in the Suez Canal.
But where there's a will there's a way.
Qantas' ability to rise like a phoenix from the ashes will be determined by Hudson's gravity of leadership.
She will need to shift the company's mindset from creating a gravitational push, to developing a gravitational pull where everyone is aligned and heading in the same direction.
It will require her to create a leadership team that is an ecosystem not an ego-system, where people are positioned at the heart of every decision and action made and staff feel valued.
But, before all that, Qantas will need to start with a culture detox, so they can commence a culture change.
Hudson faces a huge challenge of balancing business, employee and customer centricity.
Qantas needs the right strategy, right people and right culture in place or it won't be able to attend to its customer service needs.
Which circles back to my original point - customer service starts with the CEO.
Hudson will need to work with the employees of Qantas to identify what the right customer service approach is and then embody it.
Once the right strategy, right people and right culture are in place, the right systems and processes, products, services and customer service will come to life.
The bottom line will take care of itself rather than being the number one focus of recent years.
I believe the first 100 days of Hudson's reign will be pivotal.
Trust and respect will need to be earned, which requires hearing the voice of Qantas' people, loyal customers and stakeholders.
Qantas' leadership needs to ask itself three all important questions:
1. What do travellers need?
2. What do our staff want?
3. How can we re-inspire loyalty in our brand?
All while remembering the mantra ... "people are our greatest priority".
Hudson's role is not just to carry the torch, but protect the flame so the flying kangaroo is illuminated in our hearts and minds once again.
- Craig Johns is a workplace culture and leadership expert.