EXCLUSIVE: Skroo lambasts Qatar Airways blocking, believes it could’ve come from Albanese himself

Kat Stanley Photography; www.katstanleyphotography.com,

Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner, the CEO of Flight Centre, has lashed out at the Government’s recent decision to block an additional 21 flights per week to Australia by Qatar Airways.

The Federal Government sought out the opinion of Qantas as part of Qatar Airways’ application process for bilateral air rights, but Qantas opposed the bid saying it would cause Australian job losses, according to The Australian.

Catherine King, the transport minister that blocked Qatar Airways’ bid for additional capacity, said the airline’s request was “not in our national interest”. However, many in the industry, including Skroo, have criticised this, believing Qantas to be in the pocket of the Government.

“I think it’s basic logic that [King’s decision is] against the national interests. The only business it’s in the interests of is Qantas,” Skroo told Travel Weekly.

He said that if he was in Alan Joyce’s position, he’d want to do the exact same thing.

“You want to lessen [the] competition that you possibly can and that’s what happened,” he said.

Skroo believes that this decision came from a position above King.

I’ve heard that Catherine – she’s a reasonably competent minister, and I’m almost certain that this was not her decision… It almost certainly came from higher up in the government.”

When asked if he believes the decision came from Albanese himself, Skroo said he’d heard this, but couldn’t confirm it.

“That’s that’s what I hear. I have no proof of that, but that’s what I hear,” he told Travel Weekly.

The Flight Centre CEO said the desire for more capacity in Australia is widespread across the industry as high international airfares continue.

“It just makes no logical sense,” Skroo continued. “They’re a very good carrier. I know, with the examination of those Australian women, that was a negative thing, but you really can’t blame the airline for that or we wouldn’t be flying to half the countries we’re flying.”

Skroo also noted that the business around securing slots at Sydney Airport was related to the decision. The “restrictive” slot buying has limited the range of airlines entering and Skroo said that the Government needs to “get its act together” to help the average Australian who wants to fly internationally.

“It’s a government regulation issue. And this is not just Qantas doing this but Virgin. If I was them, I’d be doing it because it stops competition. If I could stop Helloworld growing or expanding, well, that would be a natural business thing to do.”

He continued, “I’m not blaming Qantas or Virgin for this, but it’s a government decision. And the government – that’s what they’re elected for, to make these things happen. [With] Qatar, that’s an absolute debacle and it probably comes from the highest levels of government.”

Taking a similar stance as Skroo towards the Qatar Airways blocking was AFTA CEO Dean Long who did not believe that King’s decision was in our national interest.

“We believe that an airline that continued to fly during the pandemic and from my understanding brought more vaccines than any other airlines into this country to get us reopened again, that they should be granted these additional rights,” Long said.

“We think it’s a good thing for competition.”

New figures have revealed that blocking Qatar Airways from adding 21 weekly flights to Australia will cost more than half a billion dollars per annum in tourism revenue.

The Australian Financial Review said it has seen numbers from airline industry sources that detail a cost of between $540-788m in annual economic activity. This figure is based on approximately half the seats being sold to foreign visitors.


Featured Image: Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner (Kat Stanley Photography)

Latest News

  • Destinations

Malolo Island Resort Fiji launches its own resort app

Guests at the Malolo Island Resort can now get a better experience even before they arrive with the resort’s newly launched mobile app. Guests are encouraged to download and use the app ahead of their stay to build their itinerary. They can check-in prior to their arrival and make dinner and spa reservations all from […]

  • Tour Operators

France on foot holiday savings

Walking up a steep incline may be painful, but it is all worth it when you see that incredible view.

  • Cruise

Seabourn introduces enhanced groups programs for travel advisors

Leading ultra-luxury cruising and expedition travel company, Seabourne, proudly announces the “Seabourn Enhanced Groups Program” to elevate business prospects for travel advisors. This program introduces a revamped Tour Conductor Credit that offers shipboard credits or bonus commission for bookings. It also eliminates the need for deposits for small group allotments and increases group capacity. “Seabourn […]

  • Cruise

Ponant’s latest luxury cruise expeditions for 2024 and 2025

Head out to see the beauty of unique destinations on three bucket-list explorations of Australia with Ponant Cruise’s new luxury expeditions. Known for their luxury cruises, Ponant offers unique and truly exceptional sea voyage aboard sleek and intimately sized cruise yachts. They offer a range of discovery expeditions, and launched new cruises that take guests […]

  • Aviation
  • News

Christine O’Reilly to replace Peter Hay as chair of Australia Pacific Airports Corporation

Christine O’Reilly has been named as the new chair of Australia Pacific Airports Corporation (APAC) – the owner of Melbourne and Launceston Airports. According to a release, O’Reilly will replace Peter Hay on 1 October, who retires after five years as Chair of APAC. APAC CEO Lorie Argus said O’Reilly’s appointment comes at an exciting […]

  • Tourism

The number one thing you can’t forget if you’re going to Europe & The Olympics

As the Summer Olympics in Paris draws near, travel insurance comparison site Compare the Market is urging travellers to safeguard their European summer sports dreams by getting travel insurance for when the unexpected happens. While France seems like a decently safe country to visit, it’s crucial not to overlook the potential risks that could disrupt a holiday. From bed […]