Irish-born Qantas CEO hails parents after British royal honour
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who comes from Tallaght in south Dublin, has been awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia in the birthday honours of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, for his services to the aviation and tourism industries, gender equity and support of indigenous education.
It's one of the highest honours that can be received in Australia. Mr Joyce, who is now an Australian citizen, is joined by others including actress Cate Blanchett who received the award in the latest honours list.
Mr Joyce was appointed CEO of Qantas in 2008, having previously headed its low-cost arm, JetStar.
Following the global financial meltdown he was responsible for keeping Qantas flying when it endured arguably the worst crisis of its history. As Mr Joyce fought to turn around the ailing carrier, he received death threats and was forced to use bodyguards. He grounded the Qantas fleet in 2011 amid an acrimonious industrial dispute.
On receiving the award, Mr Joyce told the 'Australian' newspaper that his parents "have always been his heroes" and how their work ethic and belief in education spurred him and his brothers to achieve success.
"One thing I love about Australia is the fair-go mentality," Mr Joyce (50) said.
"Everybody should have an equal go. People who try to impose their opinions - try to intimidate or get people to back down because maybe they have a weaker or lesser voice in some way - it's just something that is against the whole philosophy of this country. You have to stand up to that."
He added: "I didn't fly in an aircraft until I started work at Aer Lingus at 23 because my family couldn't afford to fly anywhere on holidays.
"This is why my parents have always been my heroes, because of their hard work and their dedication to making education the big leveller for people.
"I think that was the reason myself and my brothers all did really well - thanks to the dedication of my parents."