Olivia Wirth tapped to lead Qantas's lucrative loyalty business

Qantas has promoted chief customer officer Olivia Wirth to replace Jayne Hrdlicka as head of its loyalty business following her shock departure from the airline in December.

Ms Hrdlicka had moved from running budget arm Jetstar to be chief executive officer of the loyalty business less than a month before leaving to become CEO of The A2 Milk Company.

On Wednesday, Qantas said it was elevating Ms Wirth to lead the lucrative loyalty business, which last year returned underlying before-tax earnings of $369 million - more than the airline's international business, which returned $327 million.

Vanessa Hudson will replace Ms With as chief customer officer, responsible for customer experience and marketing.

Ms Wirth has been at Qantas for nine years and her current role includes managing marketing for its frequent flyer program.

"So Loyalty is a business she already knows and she's well placed to lead its continued expansion as its CEO," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

Mrs Hudson has worked at Qantas for the past 24 years and is currently executive manager of sales and distribution, responsible for managing some of Qantas' biggest accounts and introducing its new check-in system.

"At the senior executive level we have a number of very high calibre individuals who have a deep understanding of our business, and Olivia and Vanessa are two standout examples of that," Mr Joyce said.

The appointments maintain the gender ratio that existed on Qantas' group management committee after last year's reshuffle of four women and eight men.

Ms Hrdlicka's departure also firmed Gareth Evans, who moved from CEO of Qantas International to Jetstar in last year's reshuffle, as the internal favourite to replace Mr Joyce to lead the airline group.

However Mr Joyce and Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford have shown no indication they intend to pass the baton any time soon.

This story Olivia Wirth tapped to lead Qantas's lucrative loyalty business first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.