FLY- IN, FLY- OUT BOARD Air­port’s fate rests in out- of- town­ers’ hands

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - VIC­TO­RIA NU­GENT vic­to­ria. nu­gent@ news. com. au

THEY hold the fate of Townsville Air­port in their hands, but none of Queens­land Air­ports Ltd’s board mem­bers live in Townsville.

The seven board mem­bers of the Gold Coast- based com­pany, which owns and op­er­ates the air­port, typ­i­cally meet in Townsville once a year.

QAL also owns and op­er­ates the Gold Coast, Mount Isa and Lon­greach air­ports.

While a $ 40 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment at Townsville Air­port has been held up by stalled ne­go­ti­a­tions with Qan­tas over a pro­posed $ 3 per pas­sen­ger levy, QAL is spend­ing $ 300 mil­lion on a re­de­vel­op­ment of its Gold Coast Air­port.

It comes af­ter anti- Adani com­ments by a QAL board mem­ber amid Townsville Air­port’s fight to be­come the flyin, fly- out worker hub for the min­ing com­pany’s Carmichael coal mine project sparked dis­cus­sions be­tween the chair­woman of the board and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill.

Ear­lier this week, QAL board mem­ber Jonathan van Rooyen told the Bulletin he was con­cerned us­ing tax­payer funds for Adani’s coal mine and rail project could hurt other coal re­gions in Aus­tralia, specif­i­cally New­cas­tle.

Mr van Rooyen is gen­eral man­ager of in­vest­ment at The In­fra­struc­ture Fund, which counts QAL and the Port of New­cas­tle among its as­sets.

Cr Hill said QAL chair­woman Annabelle Chaplain as­sured her this week that the board was “fully com­mit­ted” to Townsville and the North.

“Any­one on a com­pany board has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to sup­port de­ci­sions that are in the best in­ter­ests of the com­pany,” Cr Hill said.

“Mr van Rooyen serves two mas­ters and given his re­cent pub­lic com­ments, there could be a per­cep­tion that de­ci­sions could be made that are not in the best in­ter­est of Townsville. The QAL chair­man has re­as­sured me that won’t be the case and QAL is right be­hind Townsville.”

QAL chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Mills said the or­gan­i­sa­tion em­ployed “a highly pro­fes­sional ex­ec­u­tive team and Chair­woman staff at Townsville Air­port”.

“The Townsville team are closely con­nected to and in­volved with the lo­cal com­mu­nity, which en­sures strong align­ment be­tween the air­port’s ob­jec­tives and those of the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“Se­nior staff such as Townsville Air­port chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Kevin Gill are strong ad­vo­cates for Townsville and he at­tends each board meet­ing.”

Mr Mills said the board was ap­pointed by QAL’s share­hold­ers, draw­ing on ex­per­tise in avi­a­tion, prop­erty, fi­nance and law.

“Board mem­bers are drawn from dif­fer­ent parts of Aus­tralia and bring sig­nif­i­cant and di­verse ex­pe­ri­ence to the ta­ble with a fo­cus on get­ting the best out­comes for each re­gion in which QAL op­er­ates,” he said.

“The board typ­i­cally meets monthly, with at least one of those meet­ings each year in Townsville, pre­ceded by a lo­cal stake­holder event.

“In ad­di­tion, in­di­vid­ual board mem­bers travel to Townsville at dif­fer­ent times of the year.”

Mr Mills said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was “com­mit­ted to en- sur­ing Townsville Air­port drives eco­nomic growth and cre­ates jobs in the re­gion”.

“QAL is in­vest­ing in pri­or­ity projects at the air­port to in­crease pas­sen­ger num­bers and to progress our ob­jec­tive of en­sur­ing Townsville Air­port en­hances its po­si­tion as a ma­jor FIFO hub for the min­ing in­dus­try,” he said.

“QAL has in­vested sig­nif­i­cantly in Townsville Air­port and will con­tinue to do so.”

QAL would not re­veal how much of its ex­pen­di­ture is spent on each of the air­ports it op­er­ates. The board is to meet in Townsville next month.

STALLED: An artist’s im­pres­sion of a re­de­vel­oped Townsville Air­port.

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