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Blue sky mining - Qantas appoints new Chairman

( Friday, 10 August 2007 Former CEO of mining giant, Rio Tinto, Leigh Clifford has been appointed the new Chairman of Qantas, taking over from Margaret Jackson in Nov-07. The appointment of Clifford will also put further distance between Qantas and the failed private equity deal that Jackson had championed. (But, ironically, Qantas shares have traded today as low as AUD5.40, following yesterday's Wall Street lead – five cents below the private equity offer).

Clifford’s role will be to build on the solid platform established by Jackson and CEO, Geoff Dixon, centred on the two-flying brand strategy (Qantas and Jetstar) to mine the significant potential in Asia.

Last week, Dixon stated that Qantas was presented with an “historic opportunity”, as the aviation industry's centre of gravity shifts to Asia. Qantas, he said “has a small timeslot - just a few years I imagine - to make ourselves an indispensable part of this growth story”.

Jackson hinted that Asian expansion would continue to be a key focus for Qantas under her successor, noting Clifford’s leadership of Rio Tinto through a period of significant growth, “including a number of important acquisitions and the consolidation of Rio Tinto’s position in Asia”.

But aside from the challenges of growing in Asia, the new Qantas Chair will, with his management team, have the introduction of two new aircraft types (A380s and B787s) to address in the space of a few short months next year, while also managing and financing the Group’s massive capacity growth plans and the constant challenges of volatile fuel prices.

Just days into his Chairmanship, Tiger Airways will launch domestic Australian services, which promises to significantly raise competition in the market.

Clifford’s other main challenges will be to guide the radical restructuring (along similar lines to proposals outlined by the private equity consortium), including the establishment of separate units to hold the company’s assets, including its fleet of aircraft. Industrial relations will also be an ongoing focus, with an enterprise agreement with long-haul service attendants set to expire later in 2007.

The new Chair will also have to start grooming a successor for Dixon, who is scheduled to retire in Jul-09.
About Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) was founded in 1990 and has since built an international reputation as the leading specialist aviation consultancy in the Asia Pacific, the Indian Subcontinent and Middle East regions. CAPA Consulting’s strategic advisory services are supported by the extensive information and data services provided by the Centre’s Market Research Unit to aviation industry leaders every day. The Centre also holds regular Aviation Leadership Summits, which provide unique opportunities for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

Head Office, Sydney:
Derek Sadubin, Chief Operating Officer
Aurora Place, Level 36, 88 Phillip St Sydney
PO Box N777, Grosvenor Place Sydney, NSW Australia 2000
Southeast Asia Regional Office:
Richard Pinkham, Regional Director, Southeast Asia
Indian Subcontinent and Middle East Office:
Kapil Kaul, CEO Indian Subcontinent & Middle East
UK/Europe Office:
David Bentley, UK Associate
North America Regional Office:
Martti Raito, Regional Director, North America
North Asia Representatives:
Korea: Kyung-sup Lee. Email:
Japan: Reiko Sonoyama. Email:
More information is available on the Centre’s website:

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