DEPARTURE: Outgoing Gladstone Airport Corporation chief executive officer Peter Friel (right) with incoming CEO Colin Fort.
DEPARTURE: Outgoing Gladstone Airport Corporation chief executive officer Peter Friel (right) with incoming CEO Colin Fort. Matt Taylor GLA290518AIRP

Outgoing CEO leaves airport with solid grounding

OUTGOING Gladstone Airport Corporation chief executive officer Peter Friel faced a turbulent task when he took over the job last year.

But the airport's future is looking clearer than it did 16months ago.

"I don't want to wax lyrical on it but I think it's come an enormous way from what I inherited in January 2017," MrFriel said.

"There's been fairly major restructures, which was well publicised with our (security) screening staff going out to contract."

Declining passenger numbers have also presented an unwanted headache, with recent figures showing a 200,000-plus drop since 2013.

"We're operating in a challenging environment, such as falling passenger numbers, but this is now out of our control," Mr Friel said.

"We can do as much as we can, but the airport isn't a driver of pushing passenger numbers. This relates more to the local community and what's going on in there, and also the product airlines can offer.

"We are doing everything we can to maintain those numbers but the airport doesn't have many levers in relation to passenger numbers.

"We'd love to see more flights per week, but it's up to the airlines.

"We'd love to establish flights back north again and establish other different routes, but we're mindful we can only do so much in that space."

 

An Alliance Airlines Fokker 70 touches down for the first time at Gladstone Airport after the departure of Virgin Australia's service to Brisbane.
An Alliance Airlines Fokker 70 touches down for the first time at Gladstone Airport after the departure of Virgin Australia's service to Brisbane. Paul Braven GLA170717ALLIANCE

Mr Friel will remain in Gladstone as he takes up a head position within a start-up company specialising in aviation and risk management software.

However he has stepped down as a board member of tourism organisation GAPDL.

Colin Fort will take over as airport CEO from tomorrow.

"The biggest positive I think I've brought to it is finally bringing the right people in to fill the roles... like Col Fort and our finance person Michelle Coats," Mr Friel said.

"The biggest thing has been establishing a really good base of people that are going to be able to push the airport forward.

"I wish Col all the best and thank the board, especially Adrienne Ward, who has been a fantastic chairperson."