Irish boss of Qantas airline gets pie in face at conference

Alan Joyce was addressing a business breakfast in Perth when attacked

The chief executive of Australian airline Qantas, Dublin man Alan Joyce, has had a pie shoved in his face during a business breakfast event in Perth.

Mr Joyce was addressing about 500 people at the function, where he was the keynote speaker.

While he was speaking about the airline’s recently announced direct flights to London from Perth, a man in his 60s wearing a business suit walked on stage and pushed a pie into his face. Security detained the assailant until police arrived.

“We can confirm that we responded to an assault, and it’s highly likely that charges will be laid. However, it is too early to say what those charges will be,” a police spokeswoman said.


Mr Joyce left the stage to clean himself up as his face and suit were covered in cream. When he returned, without a jacket, he joked: “Now, if there are any more pies can you get it over with now?”

‘Unusual event’

Speaking later at Perth Airport, wearing a fresh jacket, Mr Joyce brushed off the incident. “Well I think when you’ve been CEO of an airline for nine years there’s a lot of things that happen over that period of time,” he said. “This is different . . . it is an unusual event but these things happen.”

He said he did not know what type of pie had been used. “I have absolutely no idea – I’m not a big pie eater,” he said. “I didn’t have a chance to taste it – it was mostly on my glasses.

“I think my issue is I need a new dry cleaner before I leave Perth; so if you have one could you please recommend it to me?”

An attendee at the business breakfast, Ben Harvey of the West Australian newspaper, told local radio station 6PR "it was a very bizarre situation". "It appeared to be a lemon meringue pie," he said.

“It seems to be he was making some sort of political statement but we don’t know what that statement is. “[Mr Joyce] dealt with it very, very well. For a man that’s cool under pressure he proved that very much today.

“He looked at everyone and very calmly said: ‘Well, I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’m going to have to get cleaned up.’

“He walked off stage and then returned a few minutes later to warm applause and continued his speech.”

Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, tweeted the incident was "a disgrace" and the perpetrator "should be ashamed".

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins a contributor to The Irish Times based in Sydney