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Top Melbourne Airport exec exits after a year

written by Adam Thorn | February 10, 2021

Aerial view Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport at night.
An aerial view of Melbourne Airport at night. (Australian Aviation archive)

One of Melbourne Airport’s most senior executives is to leave the business just a year after he started.

Chief of aviation Shane O’Hare was responsible for driving growth but will depart in March to “pursue his own business interests”.

The exit has led to a wide-ranging restructure that will most notably see Jai McDermott, now head of public affairs, move to a new position helping to oversee the new airport rail link.

Chief executive Lyell Strambi said, “Shane joined us last January to deliver the next phase of aviation growth for Melbourne Airport well before the unprecedented impacts of COVID reached our business.

“In his short time with our business, he has left a lasting legacy for our aviation business, intensely focused on meeting the needs of our customers, and fostering a caring and thoughtful culture within this critically challenging moment in history.”


In full, the restructure will see:

  • Lorie Argus move from chief of landside access to become the new chief of aviation;
  • Jai McDermott move from executive, corporate and public affairs, to become chief of ground transport;
  • Mari Ruiz will assume the role of chief people experience and marketing officer, adding marketing and internal communications to her former portfolio;
  • Simon Gandy, formerly chief of strategy and development, will add facilities management and utilities to his responsibilities, in a new role designated chief of infrastructure;
  • Justin Portelli, head of strategy, will now report directly to CEO Lyell Strambi;
  • Head of government and stakeholder relations, Kathryn Hodges, is now overseeing government relations, external communications and community engagement functions in an acting capacity until an appointment is made.

“These changes to our senior leadership team reflect the renewed priorities of our business as we journey out of COVID, out of recession, and into a future that remains filled with uncertainty,” said Strambi.

“I’m pleased to appoint Lorie Argus to the role of chief of aviation,” said Strambi. “Lorie brings immense experience in operations across airlines in Canada and Australia, utilities and of course our airport. She has also demonstrated the commercial capability to continue the work we have been doing to rebuild our aviation business from the impacts of COVID.

“Jai McDermott joined us in June 2017 as our executive of corporate and public affairs, leading our government relations, media, communications, marketing and events functions. As we look to rebuild our landside access business, we do so knowing a long-awaited airport rail link will become a part of our future transport mix.

“I am pleased that Jai will be taking on the chief of landside access role at such a critical time for our business, where he can bring his strategic and commercial capabilities to bear.”

Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, Shane O’Hare

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in November they were committing $5 billion each to the airport’s rail link, which is due to be completed in 2029.

The rail line will operate new ‘High Capacity Metro Trains’ and the existing SkyBus service will also be maintained.

The final route will see a fresh track run from the airport to Sunshine and then continue beneath the city via the $11 billion Metro Tunnel before continuing onwards to the south-eastern suburbs via the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.

Travellers on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines will be able to travel to the airport directly, while other metro lines will require one swap inside the tunnel which is due to be completed by 2025.

A new exchange at Sunshine, meanwhile, will connect Geelong passengers in an hour, Ballarat in 90 minutes and Bendigo in two hours.

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Comment (1)

  • Jeffrey Carswell


    Maybe Melbourne Airport will get some decent executives one day so that we can get a professionally run airport with decent facilities and in particular, quality and recently priced service. Tullamarine is disgusting and the management team even worse. They believe they are safe from competition and don’t have to provide service. Hopefully the Government will sort them out, but unfortunately fat chance of that as has been demonstrated all too many times.

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