Qantas Removes The AFR From Lounges & Wifi Over Negative Reporting

Qantas Removes The AFR From Lounges & Wifi Over Negative Reporting

Qantas has removed copies of The Australian Financial Review (AFR) from its lounges and, according to customers, has made its online articles no longer discoverable on the airline’s in-house wifi following a dispute with the national masthead (lead image: Alan Joyce, Qantas’ outgoing CEO).

Persistent critical coverage of the airline by the AFR‘s Rear Window columnist Joe Aston. The journalist has been taking potshots at former chief exec Alan Joyce’s leadership, the airline’s fleet and customer service repeatedly in the last nine months.

In particular, Rear Window had accused Qantas of price gouging and has written about the rising cost of capital expenditure.

The publication and the airline struck a deal to make its content available in the airline’s lounges last July and gave customers full access to the AFR‘s news, analysis and commentary. The deal is expected to expire later this year and it coincided with a similar deal with News Corp’s The Australian and switching from Sky News to ABC News in Qantas lounges.

“It’s disappointing Qantas management has decided to deprive its customers of the country’s best business and finance journalism because it can’t countenance robust criticism,” said Nine’s managing director of publishing James Chessell.

“We’ve been here before with Qantas, and as always, our editorial independence won’t be affected by commercial pressure. The vast majority of people I speak to think Joe’s Qantas coverage is tough but fair.”

Qantas declined to comment when approached by The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

Qantas and Joyce have form when it comes to picking fights with publications over perceived negative coverage. In 2014, the airline pulled a significant ad spend from the SMH and The Age and removed them from distribution in aircraft and lounges believing that the papers were not impartial and favoured competitor Virgin.

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