The Managing Director of Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), Mr Dennis Chant, has been made an Adjunct Professor in Griffith University’s Aviation group.

Mr Chant has more than 40 years experience in the aviation, maritime and tourism industries.

Since assuming leadership at QAL, he has presided over the company’s acquisition of Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports which, when combined with the Gold Coast Airport, make QAL the largest operator of regional airports in Australia.

He is also a member of the World Governing Board of Airports Council International (ACI) and is the President of ACI’s Asia Pacific Region.

“Having someone like Dennis Chant at Griffith University will not only help us to maintain our focus on a curriculum that is industry-relevant, but will advance our efforts to pursue research opportunities based on industry needs,” says Senior Lecturer in Aviation Management, Dr Gui Lohmann.

Mr Chant’s appointment is especially fitting given this year’s launch of a Graduate Certificate in Airport Management – a partnership between Griffith’s Aviation group, the Griffith Business School and QAL — and the ongoing development of a new course, Airport Planning and Management, as part of the postgraduate certificate.

Complexities of the airport environment

Dr Lohmann says the new course responds to demands within contemporary aviation, including expansion of the sector, the nature of services supplied by modern airport terminals and the growth of airport privatisation.

“Airports have evolved considerably in the past 15 years, becoming commercial, privatised enterprises and leading to an increasing demand for airport managers to be trained and educated in the complexities of the airport environment,” he says.

Dr Lohmann adds that Mr Chant’s appointment and the broader partnership between Griffith and QAL reflect a shared recognition of the need to equip prospective airport managers with skills specific to the aviation industry, including managerial and planning issues, leadership, communication, strategic management, sustainability and systems thinking.

Griffith University currently has two research agreements with QAL. The first helped establish a survey which has collected more than 16,000 responses from Gold Coast airport passengers, the aim being to understand travel patterns and consumer behaviour.

QAL has also engaged with a Griffith University Industry Collaboration Scheme to study the ‘willingness-to-pay’ concept for transport infrastructure.

A number of pieces of infrastructure will be considered at Townsville and Gold Coast airports.

“Gold Coast Airport in particular will be subject to a number of improvements so it is ready for the Commonwealth Games in 2018. This project is thus timely to understand the needs of customers and the value they place on potential new developments,” says Dr Lohmann.

QAL is also a potential partner for an Australian Research Council Linkage project to consider financial mechanisms such as “land value capture” to help meet costs should the Gold Coast light rail system be extended to Coolangatta.

Other partners include the City of Gold Coast, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and Q:Link.