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SYDNEY AIRPORT: New CEO appointed. Scott Charlton ex-Transurban replaces retiring Geoff Culbert

SYDNEY AIRPORT: New CEO appointed. Scott Charlton ex-Transurban replaces retiring Geoff Culbert

Sydney Airport is the largest airport in Australia on most measures, so a change in CEO of this now privatised company is an important announcement. Add to that the current controversies about airline slot hoarding, and it is also potentially powerful.

The outgoing CEO, Geoff Culbert, who is retiring, will be replaced by Scott Charlton.

The new CEO, who will take up the position in December, has a strong history in transport, building and infrastructure companies. As David Gonsky, the Chair of Sydney Airport, pointed out, Charlton has an 11-year history with Transurban and a former role as COO of Lendlease. If you saw Sydney Airport at the moment, with the vast construction of flyovers and connecting roadworks, you would see that a background in tollways (Transurban) and major infrastructure projects (Lendlease) is quite good experience to bring to an Airport. The only thing lacking is a touch of previous Airline or Airport experience and some retail.

Sydney Airport Departures board. [Schuetx/2PAXfly]
Sydney Airport Departures board. [Schuetx/2PAXfly]

Shuffling up

This appointment means a bit of other CEO shuffling in the corporate world. Charlton will leave Transurban a month earlier than expected. Therefore, his replacement at Transurban, Michelle Jablko, will have to start a month earlier.

Charlton and Culbert, the outgoing Sydney Airport CEO, will have a one-month overlap in December before Culbert leaves at the end of 2023. Culbert said he will take six months off but has not ruled out a return to executive or board duties after that.

a sign in a building
Sydney Airport during COVID-19. Locked off and deserted. [Laughland/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

Geoff Culbert, the outgoing CEO, has had a very full last few years, completing everything from the privatisation of the Airport owner to the substantial financial and other restructuring required during COVID-19.

Incoming CEO Scott Charlton has his work cut out. There are recommendations from the Federal Government’s Harris Review into the Sydney Airport Demand Management scheme to implement. And that is all part of the slots hoarding controversy, which is bedevilling Qantas and Emirates (it currently only uses half its allocated landing rights), and to a lesser extent, Virgin Australia, which may or may not be preparing itself for sale and/or an Australian Stock Exchange listing.

We appear to be moving into ‘interesting times’ at Sydney Airport

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