As he began the keynote address at the West Business Leadership Matters event, Mr Joyce was stunned to suddenly be smeared with what looked to be a lemon meringue pie by an elderly gentleman.
The man aged in his late 60s or early 70s and wearing a suit, calmly walked up behind him on to the stage at the Hyatt Regency without any resistance from security.
Despite the mess, Mr Joyce maintained his composure saying “I don’t know what that was about” before excusing himself to “clean up”.
He later returned to give his address to the room of 500 business people, minus his jacket.
Police interviewed the perpetrator who provided no explanation for the bizarre attack.
He was expected to undergo a mental health assessment, and possibly be charged with assault.
After the function, Mr Joyce described the “pie-ing” as a “new experience”.
“I think when you’ve been a CEO of an airline for nine years, there’s been a lot of things that have happened over that period of time,” Mr Joyce said.
[alan joyce copping a cream pie to the face in super slow motion as “i still call australia home” plays in the background]
— Tiger Webb (@tfswebb) May 9, 2017
The attack on Alan Joyce today was a disgrace. The person should be ashamed. The threats any of us receive is unacceptable #wordsnotviolence
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) May 9, 2017
Going sugar free this month has me jealous of Alan Joyce. What pie would I like to be pied with? Banoffee or Lemon Meringue I think.
— Emma Pedler (@EmmaPeds) May 9, 2017
No pies here. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce spruiking Perth-London flights, shortly after having pie tossed in his face at business breakfast pic.twitter.com/9PdNG6qjpe
— Jacob Kagi (@kagij) May 9, 2017
“This is different, but it’s not unusual. It is an unusual event, but these things certainly have happened. Things have happened like this in the past.”
Other public figures to be publicly pied include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, singer Kenny Rogers and designer Karl Lagerfield.
Generally “pie-ing” is seen as an attack on someone’s political beliefs.
Mr Joyce said he had no idea what the motive was, and dismissed as “pure speculation” that his advocacy for gay marriage may have been a trigger.
“I think the police need to investigate this. This is in the hands of the police and we should let them do their investigation,” he said.
The Qantas boss recently announced the group was on track for its second biggest profit on record this financial year, with an expected result of $1.4 billion before tax.
He said he was pleased he could finish his address to the business gathering in Perth.
“Obviously we were there for a very serious event; it’s to talk about the opportunity that this Perth London operation has,” Mr Joyce said, referring to the historic non-stop flights set to begin next year.
“It was to talk to a lot of our customers, a lot of our suppliers, and I’m glad I still had the opportunity to communicate to them.”