Irishman Alan Joyce has said it felt like the 'right time' to step down as head of Australia's Qantas Airways.
The Dubliner announced his retirement as CEO earlier this week - a role he has held since 2008.
He previously worked for Jetstar Airways - described as Australia's 'equivalent to Ryanair' - where he also held the position of chief executive.
Vanessa Hudson, currently the Qantas Chief Financial Officer, will take over from Mr Joyce when he retires in November.
Mr Joyce told Breakfast Business with Joe Lynam he had been asked to stay on longer.
"The board of the company wanted me stay on in the job, but I want to do other things as well," he said.
"I'm pretty active in the community here in Sydney, and the last few years have been a bit tough.
"The pandemic was very hard on the aviation industry... and I think it's the right time.
"There was a great internal successor that was able to take over, my CFO, so it felt like the right time.
"You always want to go when the company is in good shape, and I think Qantas is in very good shape".
COVID and Australia
Mr Joyce said the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian travel particularly hard.
"Not only did the international borders into Australia close down, but the domestic borders closed as well," he said.
"The states here closed off to each other.
"Between Melbourne and Sydney... we have 55 flights a day - during the pandemic that got down to one flight a day, because nobody was allowed to travel between the two states.
"We never thought that would happen, and it meant that our revenue just completely stopped".
He said the airline is now coming out the other side.
"We had to take dramatic action to stop the company going bankrupt," he explained.
"We did, we did a lot of things that made the company survive and gave us a longer runway to get through it.
"Now we're coming out the other side".
Mr Joyce said he moved to Australia based on his perception of its acceptance of LGBT people.
"When I worked in Aer Lingus, I was not out at work because homosexuality I think was decriminalised in 1993 in Ireland.
"One of the reasons why I came to Australia was because I had this image that it was more open for LGBTI people.
"You had the images of Mardi Gras and the acceptance that was here.
"I left in '96, came to Melbourne, was very open at work then and found Australia an amazing [and] accepting place".
Mr Joyce said "bizarrely" Ireland has progressed a lot faster than Australia.
"Ireland got marriage equality with that referendum a couple of years before Australia had a plebiscite that also voted up marriage equality," he said.
"Ireland has had now, for the second time, an openly gay prime minister - we still haven't had that in Australia.
"I think we've seen things switch around a little bit, but both amazingly accepting countries.
"What's great about Australia is you have a gay Irishman who became the CEO of the most iconic Australian brand.
"People fully accepted that, and I think it's a great credit to this country that that's possible on merit".
Mr Joyce said he plans to retire in Australia with his husband, Shane.
"My mother still lives in Dublin and I've got a brother that lives in Laois; so [I'll] certainly be spending a lot of time up in Ireland as well," he added.
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