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Brisbane CEO joins Australian Airports Association board

written by Adam Thorn | November 26, 2020

Brisbane Airport runway
Brisbane Airport Corporation chief Gert-Jan de Graaff, centre, leads the subdued celebrations after an eight-year construction project (Brisbane Airport)

The chief executive of Brisbane Airport is among five new directors appointed to the board of the Australian Airports Association (AAA).

Gert-Jan de Graaff has overseen the opening of the airport’s new $1.1 billion runway this year that will slowly double the hub’s passenger numbers from 23.4 million to more than 50 million by 2040.

Other appointees include Lorie Argus (Melbourne Airport), Kym Meys (Adelaide Airport), Paul Watson (Hamilton Island Airport) and Matt Cocker (Hobart Airport), alongside Nat Thomas (Halls Creek Aerodrome) who was re-elected.

AAA chair Tom Ganley said, “Gert-Jan de Graff has been the CEO of Brisbane Airport for the past two-and-a-half years and has more than two decades of experience in leadership roles at major airports right around the world.

“Lorie Argus brings more than 25 years’ aviation experience and forms part of Melbourne Airport’s leadership team. Currently chief of landside access, utilities and facilities group, Lorie has helped deliver big infrastructure, long-term strategy and complex capital projects.


“Kym Meys has more than 15 years’ experience across Australian airports having held a wide range of senior airport planning, strategy and project delivery roles from a remote mining airport to major Australian gateways. Kym is currently the executive general manager of planning and infrastructure at Adelaide Airport.

“Paul Watson hails from a background in airline operations, financial management and emergency services and is currently Hamilton Island Airport’s general manager of civil services and operations.

“Matt Cocker has been engaged in the aviation industry for the past 15 years and is the chief operating officer of Hobart Airport. Matt has held positions within the aviation industry right across Australia including at Adelaide Airport, Northern Territory Airport and Qantas.

“Nat Thomas has worked with Aerodrome Management Services for 20 years and has carried out a wide variety of roles on regional airports within Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. These roles include aerodrome management, construction, line marking, lighting installation, design and inspection.”

The new directors replace past chair Guy Thompson, Paul Hodgen (formerly from Launceston Airport), Katie Cooper (formerly from Melbourne Airport), Stephen Carson (Canberra Airport), Howard Aspey (Whyalla Airport) and Norris Carter (North Queensland Airports), who have served for the past two years.

This year, de Graaff has overseen Brisbane Airport overtaking Sydney to handle more than twice as many passengers per month.

The knock-on effect of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to closer her border meant Brisbane clocked up 324,188 total passengers in August versus Sydney’s 129,000.

Significantly, the Queensland capital’s numbers were down only slightly from July (358,537) whereas the NSW capital’s collapsed 60 per cent (from 317,000).

“Brisbane is currently the busiest airport in the nation due to strong intrastate travel and an increase in domestic tourism,” said Australian Airports Association chief executive James Goodwin.

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