qantas alan joyce
Qantas Airways Ltd Chief Executive Alan Joyce reacts after arriving at the company's annual general meeting (AGM) in Sydney, Australia, October 21, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

Qantas boss Alan Joyce was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) during the Queen's Birthday Honours. The Irish-born Australian businessman was honoured by the Queen for his services to the aviation transport industry, gender equity and support of indigenous education.

Joyce has been rewarded for reversing the fortune of Qantas, getting nearly $13 million in pay and perks for the year up to June 2016. He joined the airline in 2008 as chief executive officer and managing director from Jetstar Airways.

Since then, Joyce assisted the company through a capacity war with Virgin Australia and international airlines. The national carrier suffered a record $2.8 billion loss in 2013/14 but managed to recover, thanks to drop in fuel costs and a major operational overhaul overseen by Joyce. The overhaul included slashes in jobs and freezing wages.

Profits rose by 85 percent in 2015/16 to a record $1.03 billion. Qantas obtained the best underlying pre-tax profit result in its 95-year history. Furthermore, the carrier has cut its relationship with Tourism Australia over a reported fight with TA chairman and former Qantas head Geoff Dixon.

Joyce had been in hot water, too, specifically in 2011 when he chose to ground the whole Qantas domestic and international fleet. He copped a lemon meringue pie in the face last month while speaking at a business event.

It was later revealed the culprit was protesting against corporate support for same-sex marriage. For Joyce, speaking up on marriage equality is personal, but acknowledged Qantas’ support of same-sex marriage has been good for the airline, too.

There is also his works for tourism sectors. Joyce's support for gender equity and Indigenous education were also mentioned by the award team. Joyce is ambassador of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and a founding member of the Male Champions of Change initiative.

He said he was "truly honoured by this award, which also recognises the work of thousands of people who make Qantas an institution that Australians can rightly be proud of,” Sydney Morning Herald reports. As he received the honour, he said that aviation can be such a force for good because it is about connecting people and that “encourages a diversity of ideas that makes Australia the kind of place it is today.”

Joyce moved to Down Under from Ireland in 1996. In 2003, he obtained an Australian citizenship. Professor Ross Garnaut, one of the country’s most well-known economists, was also recognised for his services.

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