Dixon feud not over, says Joyce
THE chief executive of Qantas, Alan Joyce, insists that the standoff with his former mentor Geoff Dixon has not been resolved, despite a group of rebel shareholders selling their stake in the airline.
Speaking in Sydney on Wednesday, Mr Joyce said Mr Dixon's conflict of interest remained because the "issues were more broader in terms of ambitions in what was going to happen in relation to Qantas".
Mr Joyce has demanded Mr Dixon step aside as Tourism Australia chairman or dissociate himself from the group of high-profile investors who had been agitating for a change in strategic direction at Qantas.
Qantas has made clear that it will ditch funding for Tourism Australia after June unless the group states publicly that it has given up on attempts to undermine the airline's management.
Mr Joyce said he would not comment on who was on Qantas's share register but "as far as I was concerned, the conflict didn't relate just to the shareholding".
"There's a number of ways the conflict could be resolved and it is up to the people involved in it to resolve that conflict," he said, without elaborating.
Apart from Mr Dixon, the group of dissident Qantas shareholders included financier Mark Carnegie, former Qantas executive Peter Gregg and ad man John Singleton.
The consortium sold down a 1.5 per cent stake in Qantas last month for a tidy profit. As part of an agreement, each member of the group was required to sell their holdings after a decision was made to take the profits made since they bought in shortly after Qantas shares reached a low of 97¢ in June.
The chief executive of Tourism Australia, Andrew McEvoy, attended the lunch at which Mr Joyce was the guest speaker on Wednesday but declined to comment.
The peak body's board has backed its chairman in the bitter feud between the pair. Mr Dixon also declined to comment.
The impasse comes as Mr Joyce warned that business will have to become accustomed to a high Australian dollar.
Coining it the "normal Australian dollar", he said Qantas was counting on the high currency remaining for the foreseeable future, and business had to ensure that strategies were "robust enough" to cope.
"You have to plan on that. Our ideal is that the dollar would be around US70¢ to US80¢. It would make a big difference to the economics, but you can't count on it," Mr Joyce said.
Despite the problems besetting Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft, Qantas has not been informed by the US manufacturer of the aircraft, Boeing, of any delays to the delivery of its first 787.
Qantas's budget offshoot, Jetstar, is scheduled to take the keys to the group's first 787 in August.
"We do have contingencies if there are further delays in the aircraft," Mr Joyce said. "We managed to cope with a four-year delay in the aircraft so far. But we want to have the aircraft as soon as possible."
Mr Joyce said multiple investigations were continuing into the problem but "nobody was aware of what exactly has caused it and what are the potential solutions and fixes".