Corporatocracy Leadership Cohort Scrambling for Excuses
International flights out of Townsville to Bali will be discontinued by Jetstar from 22nd March 2018 due to a lack of patronage the budget carrier said, putting Townsville’s capital of North Queensland claims in serious jeopardy and a Senator calling for the Townsville Enterprise (TEL) Chairman to stand down.
The CEO of Townsville Airport and TEL Chairman Mr. Kevin Gill campaigned aggressively in 2014-15 with local Townsville leaders to achieve federal government support for customs and border protection resources to be stationed in Townsville in order to boost the City’s international tourism numbers.
The Jetstar decision this week comes just days after Mayor Jenny Hill criticised the budget airline’s parent company Qantas for refusing to raise the price of domestic airfares by $3 per passenger as a means of funding the proposed $80 million upgrade of the airport.
Speculation that the feud created by Queensland Airports Limited and Mayor Jenny Hill demanding that Qantas increase its airfares to pay for the airport upgrade contributed to the Jetstar decision to axe the Bali flights.
But the CEO of Jetstar’s Australian and New Zealand business Mr. Dean Salter may have unintendedly implicated Ms. Hill and Mr. Gill because he said the $3 levy would have made the route even more unviable. However, the $3 levy does not apply to international routes out of Townsville.
When Jetstar had agreed to deliver a Townsville to Bali service in 2015, the airport CEO and Chairman of TEL said: “I encourage North Queenslander’s to embrace the new service when it starts in September, proving that there is a growing appetite for direct international services from Townsville”.
Jetstar’s argument for closing the service is that insufficient support existed for the service, which could be frustrating for the TEL Chairman who anticipated the people of Townsville would prove Jetstar’s support for the city was justified. This was not to be.
Many questions must be asked now about the management of Townsville Airport and the suggestion that Townsville’s tourism marketing under the stewardship of TEL has been poorly executed in attracting international passengers from Asia through to Townsville via the Bali route.
Senator Ian McDonald called for Mr. Gill to stand down as Chairman of TEL.
This comes on the back of advice from marketing guru Don Morris in the Pure Projects report that puts Townsvilleans and the “experiences” tourism product of the City at the centre of any future successful marketing initiative.
Now it seems the lack of accountability in the Townsville cohort of leaders and the poor execution of an Asian and global marketing plan brings a sense of déjà vu just like the highly political collapse of Queensland Nickel under the weight of unviable commodity prices.
Townsville Enterprise CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said “It’s not about simply marketing, it’s much deeper than that.” she said in a comment to Townsville Bulletin reporter, Domani Cameron.
“We need to keep going and keep analysing new routes. It does definitely impact our brand and we’re going to have to work harder”, Ms O’Callaghan reported.
City’s international reputation at risk by “reckless” Mayor
Yet there was no suggestion of accountability among the Townsville leadership cohort except the local Senator Ian McDonald who called for the Townsville Airport CEO to stand down from his role as TEL Chairman or in his role with Queensland Airports Limited.
The owner of Townsville Airport, Queensland Airports Limited, has come under further scrutiny from a rambunctious Mayor Jenny Hill who has not only accused board members of a conflict of interest in not supporting Townsville’s bid to become the fly-in fly-out hub for the Adani coal mine, but directing her exuberant comments towards Qantas for not increasing prices on flights to cover airport upgrades and undermining the national icon’s brand.
Ms. Hill has become consistent in attacking commercial brands, even visiting journalists reporting candidly on the lack of appeal of the City’s tourist attractions, using bullying tactics as a weapon for negotiation that has seen the economy plummet into recession under the leadership of the veteran Labor politician.
Reaching out to another airline to fill the void of Townsville’s international descent by Jetstar fleeing the international scene could be a tall order considering the way in which the leadership treats company’s taking commercial risks in the region.
The local government authority and the leadership cohort have become used to demanding handouts and hand ups from the federal and state government, commercial enterprise and rate payers while castigating and ridiculing businesses that have already ventured their capital in the City for a little dividend over the past 5-10 years.
Despite the good news of economic stimulation projects in construction of housing, mining and energy, and the federal and state governments’ investments in social services in the City, the Townsville leadership, communication and marketing formula for success has alluded the current crop of leaders. At the glimpse of any further withdrawl of big business, the capital of North Queensland status could be stripped too if the City loses its international airport altogether.
Strategic airlines also cancelled Bali to Townsville flight in 2011 due to the lack of passenger numbers.
Again, the ripple effect of Townsville’s downgraded tourism status and lack of vision and commercial acumen within the leadership cohort of the City presents concerns for business confidence and the supply chains that service and provide opportunities to the stakeholders in the property market.
Political and climate change related risks are serious elements to the economic sustainability of the City and Northern Australia moving forward and the direct and indirect consequence on property yields and capital values.
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