The boss of Qantas has opened up about his gay Kiwi lover, having cancer and a A$5 million ($6.4 million) salary - which he defended as hour-for-hour less than a pilot's rate.

Alan Joyce revealed in GQ magazine about telling his family he was gay and being treated for prostate cancer last year.

He also defended his A$5 million salary, saying pilots were paid more on an hourly basis.

Joyce, who is openly gay, has shared his life with a New Zealand man since 1999.


In the interview for the April issue of GQ, Joyce said he was paid less to run Qantas than he was to run budget airline Jetstar five years ago.

"What Qantas pays me as CEO is very conservative compared with other ASX 100 companies, and if you ranked salaries by hours worked I'm not even the highest-paid person in Qantas ... the pilots and senior captains get paid a lot more."

In the interview he also admits to making mistakes in his career, including setting up Jetstar without assigned seating.

He said the only way to deal with a mistake was to admit it and act immediately.

Joyce was made the chief executive of Jetstar in 2003 after working at the now-defunct airline Ansett. He became chief executive of Qantas in November 2008.

- Staff reporter