The deepening ill feeling between current Qantas management and former chief executive Geoff Dixon has resulted in the airline severing a 40-year partnership with Tourism Australia.
Qantas this morning confirmed it had "suspended any future dealings" with Australia's official tourism agency, saying: "Qantas cannot continue to collaborate with an agency whose chairman is a member of a syndicate committed to unravelling Qantas's structure and direction." The airline's chief executive, Alan Joyce, wrote to Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday to tell him of the decision to suspend the $50 million marketing deal.
Qantas says it will shift its financial support of the tourism industry to state bodies and today Mr Joyce told an aviation meeting the company would continue to support tourism operators.
"We deemed it prudent to suspend our partnership with Tourism Australia, we will of course continue to be a proud sponsor of tourism in Australia through other means," he said.
"The tourism industry can be assured that not one dollar of tourism marketing will be lost as a result of this decision." Tourism Australia's chairman, Mr Dixon, is a former chief of Qantas and part of a group of investors reportedly seeking control of the airline.
A spokesman for Tourism Australia says it has received a letter from Qantas about the split.
In a statement, Mr Ferguson said the split was a commercial matter that had nothing to do with Tourism Australia or the Government.
He said he had referred the issues raised by Qantas to the board of Tourism Australia to consider and report back.
"This conflict has arisen from the involvement of Tourism Australia's chairman with a syndicate that is actively canvassing fundamental changes to the Qantas Group strategy, including the proposed partnership with Emirates," Qantas said in a statement.
Harvey speaks Meanwhile, Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey has shed light on rumours he is involved in the takeover bid for Qantas.
Mr Harvey admitted to being a passive investor in the national carrier amid speculation he was part of the consortium pushing for strategic change at the airline.
Rumours about the possible takeover bid have been swirling for months.
Other names linked to the consortium include former Qantas chief financial officer Peter Gregg, venture capitalist Mark Carnegie and ad man John Singleton.
"That is what happens with companies when they go below their asset backing," Mr Harvey said.
"They are not performing that well and they become the subject of rumour.
"And when that happens, often there is substance to that rumour and there are people out there that would be interested in investing in Qantas with a view to influencing the company in some manner to do some things differently and consequently they'd end up making a little profit."