The Week in Focus

The Week in Focus
By admin

Most of the time, the industry works together in harmony.

But not always…..

And seeing as it's Christmas, it's time to look at the past 12 months and assess who can expect a seasonal message of goodwill from a colleague or two – and who shouldn't waste too much time waiting for the postie.

At this point last year, it seemed unlikely that Flight Centre's Graham Turner and Air Australia chief executive Michael James would be exchanging cards after a squabble over the carrier's lack of insurance.

To say that James, once again, will be excluded from Turner's Christmas card list would be an understatement of sizeable proportions. He is personal non grata with the entire industry.

Agents and wholesalers, not to mention thousands of passengers, would certainly like to deliver a message to the failed airline boss, but not one that could be described as particularly festive.

Moving on. It's very topical, and these two have hardly been on each others list for quite some time, but any hope of a thawing of relations between Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury and his counterpart at the Travel Compensation Fund, Glen Wells, was well and truly dashed on December 7 when consumer affairs ministers voted for travel industry reform and the demise of the TCF.

Still on this issue, Flight Centre will surely be popping a card in the post to Westbury as it was largely down to the AFTA chief's doggedness that got reform across the line. Such reform will save Turner's company a fair chunk of cash in licensing and administration costs.

Alan Joyce and the man he took over from at Qantas, Geoff Dixon, have enjoyed a harmonious relationship and would ordinarily not only swap cards but enjoy Christmas drinks together.

Not so now.

Joyce, hearing that his former mentor was involved with a syndicate said to be briefing against his strategy for Qantas, promptly withdrew his airline's marketing support for Tourism Australia, of which Dixon is chairman. A "conflict of interests" is how Qantas described Dixon's position.

Following on from this, Joyce should expect a card from John Borghetti for handing Virgin Australia a gift-wrapped opportunity to ride to the rescue and fill the void left by Qantas.

Still with previously solid relationships, former Council of Australian Tour Operators chairman Simon Hills would normally expect a hatful of cards from his CATO colleagues. His letter box may not be quite so full this time around. Hills angered some within CATO ranks by launching Maestro Travel, an operation linking travel agents direct with overseas Destination Management Companies, a move that will effectively cut wholesalers out of the loop.

Finally, Carnival Australia won't be too quick to send a card to the Government's consumer affairs department. Not after a document with "confidential" stamped all over it was mistakenly uploaded to the consumer affairs website for the world and his wife to have a gander at.

It's not as it the contents – a response to the Travel Industry Transition Plan – weren't sensitive. Carnival warned that in the event of the TCF being wound up, it may be forced to adopt a more aggressive direct sell strategy.

So, that's it for another challenging and interesting year in the industry. Expect more of the same in 2013.

Email the Travel Weekly team at

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