Travel Agents

“Ridiculous”: Helloworld CEO denies saying Joe Hockey “owes” him

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Andrew Burnes has denied setting up meetings between Helloworld exec Russell Carstensen and Australian Ambassador to the US Joe Hockey.

During a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday afternoon Carstensen alleged Burnes, the CEO of Helloworld, said he could arrange a meeting with the ambassador because Hockey “owes” him, according to SMH.

“I did not organise any meetings between Russell Carstensen and Joe Hockey,” Burnes said in a statement on the ASX.

“Mr Carstensen’s own email of 24 April 2017 shows that he organised the meeting with Mr Hockey and I was simply CCed on the email.”

Burnes also said Hockey did not discuss the meeting in Washington at any time after it took place.

“I emphatically deny ever having told Mr Carstensen that Mr Hockey “owes me” or any words to that effect,” he said.

“Joe Hockey and I have been close friends for 20 years and it would be ridiculous to suggest I would say or imply he owes me anything.”

Carstensen, who was head of both QBT and Air Tickets at the time of the meeting with Hockey and DFAT employees, resigned from Helloworld in 2018.

Burnes, who is the Liberal Party’s fundraising chief, said he has never received special treatment from Liberal Governments.

He also pointed out that the Whole of Government Accommodation Management contract was awarded to AOT, which Burnes founded in 1987, was won under the federal Labor Government in 2012. In 2015, AOT went for the same tender under the Coalition and was rejected.

AOT merged with Helloworld in 2016.

Andrew Burnes, Cinzia Burnes and Joe Hockey at AOT Headquarters opening 2013
Andrew Burnes, Cinzia Burnes and Joe Hockey at AOT Headquarters opening 2013

Media reports have recently suggested that the Australian Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, who is one of Helloworld’s 20 largest shareholders, may have encouraged staff to meet with QBT in Washington, DC ahead of its bid for a government contract.

QBT was awarded a contract in 2015 to provide travel management services to Commonwealth Government Agencies, including DFAT.

According to Helloworld, in 2017, QBT met with DFAT personnel in the US to discuss the provision of travel management services to the US by the company’s request.

“QBT understands DFAT personnel met a number of travel service providers as part of its considerations in relation to the provision of travel services in the US,” Helloworld said in a statement.

In August 2018, DFAT started a formal tender process, which QBT responded to, but no announcement has been made in relation to the tender.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • Jerry Bridge

    Well Joe certainly owes me one for sure …!!

Aviation

Destinations

Tourism

International airport to be built “right on top” of world-famous tourist attraction

If you’re a travel professional and doing all you can to avoid the dangers of overtourism like the plague, you might want to sit down while reading this.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Report finds brakes weren’t used before plane crash that killed 41

Those seeking answers to why the Russian Aeroflot plane crash that killed 41 people occurred have been given a bit of clarity around the tragic incident.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Technology

TripAdvisor steps in after restaurant roasted for issuing tourists huge bill

We’re such tight-arses here at Travel Weekly that we often adopt the ‘dine and dash’ strategy when eating out.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Wholesalers

Excite Holidays launches new guide to Indonesia

Coincidentally, Indonesia has just re-elected its president, and Travel Weekly’s editor is having dinner at an Indonesian restaurant tonight.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

The 13 mobile apps travellers can’t go without

Here are 13 must-have apps for travellers, with Tinder, Grindr and Candy Crush Saga surprising omissions.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Midweek Interview

Midweek Interview with Next Story Group’s Alex Billing

We recently shared a blanket in front of the fire with Next Story Group’s regional vice president of operations. Oh, and we interviewed him too.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Wholesalers

Trafalgar and TTC sister brands celebrate National Agent Appreciation Day with deals, treats + more

Travel Weekly staff are using the excuse of National Agent Appreciation Day to hold an office beer pong tournament, with Panadol and Berocca on standby for tomorrow.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Cruise wrap: P&O hosts Qld Maroons fan meet, SeaDream’s new sustainable ship, Cruise360 news + more!

Here’s a cruise wrap complete with a few ripper footy legends to get you in the mood for some State of Origin action next month.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Migrants flood French airport terminal, demand to see PM and Air France CEO

by Christian Fleetwood

Hundreds of migrants have flooded an airport terminal in France. As in they turned up in droves – not turned on all the taps.

Share

CommentComments

Events

ATTN: Women in Travel Awards 2019 finalists revealed!

Yes, the time has finally arrived for Travel Weekly to announce the finalists for this year’s Women in Travel Awards! We even bought a klaxon for the occasion.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Michael Slater removed from Qantas flight after heated argument onboard

Ex-Australian cricketer and current Seven Network presenter Michael Slater has been dismissed by a Qantas umpire after a heated argument onboard.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Events

Yippee! All the shots from The Amazing Tastes of Thailand event in Sydney!

The photos from the ATOT event in Sydney are up! We promise there are no squinting guests or flies left undone in any of the shots.

Share

CommentComments