Are these two stories connected? Qantas announced yesterday that a new non-executive director had been appointed. Qantas said in a statement that Mr Paul Rayner will fill a casual vacancy on the Qantas board with immediate effect.
The airline said Mr Rayner had recently retired as finance director of British American Tobacco and was previously chief operating officer of British American Tobacco Australasia Ltd. Mr Rayner is also a non-executive director of British energy company Centrica and serves as chairman of Centrica’s audit committee.
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said Mr Rayner’s “substantial financial, operational and international experience will be a valued asset to the Qantas board”.
And then there was this story and this AAP story on Sydney Morning Herald website yesterday:
Anti-smoking lobby groups have attacked a move by Qantas to resume inflight cigarette sales as a “greedy cash grab” at the expense of good health.
The national airline has reintroduced tobacco sales on board this month, almost 10 years after they were stopped.
Legislation prohibits the packs from being advertised in the shopping catalogue but it is legal to stack them on the duty-free trolley and wheel them through the cabin.
A letter recently sent to Qantas staff by management states: “It’s vital that duty free carts are taken out into the economy cabin, with the cigarettes displayed prominently on top” …
Another group, Quit, joined the criticism, with executive director Fiona Sharkie labelling it a “greedy cash grab”.
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International flights are an opportunity for smokers to give up smoking, but having cheap cigarettes promoted to them by Qantas in-flight completely undermines this opportunity,” Ms Sharkie said.
“Perhaps the flying kangaroo should be renamed the cancer kangaroo, such is their insistence on the in-flight sale and display of a product that will ultimately kill more than half of long-term users.”
But Qantas Group general manager of customer product and services Lesley Grant defended the move, which she said was motivated by passenger demand.
“The availability of cigarettes reflects customer demand,” Ms Grant said.
“Regardless of what the product might be, if we see changes in demand we review our product range.”
Is this the sort of “financial, operational and international experience” Qantas is paying Mr Rayner for?