Australia's Qantas Airways is cutting ties with Tourism Australia, citing a conflict of interest between its chairman and the airline's strategic direction.
The airline says Tourism Australia chairman and former Qantas chief executive, Geoff Dixon, has been linked to a consortium of investors seeking to take a stake in the airline and change its strategy.
"This conflict has arisen from the involvement of Tourism Australia's chairman with a syndicate that is actively canvassing fundamental changes to the Qantas Group strategy, including the proposed partnership with Emirates," says the airline.
"Qantas cannot continue to collaborate with an agency whose chairman is a member of a syndicate committed to unravelling Qantas's structure and direction," it adds.
The statement is the first admission from Qantas that it is defending itself against a consortium of Australian businessmen led by Dixon and its former chief financial officer Peter Gregg.
The airline was said to have formed an internal task force of senior staff to defend itself against a possible bid by the Dixon and Gregg consortium.
The consortium allegedly hopes to spin off Qantas's frequent flyer and Jetstar businesses. It is also supposedly against the airline's proposed alliance with Emirates, preferring instead to work with Cathay Pacific or another Asian carrier.
Despite speculation about the consortium's plans, there are no signs that it has gained a foothold in the airline's share register.
Qantas has not informed the market of any major acquisition by the consortium. Under the Australian law, the airline is required to disclose information of any party obtaining over 5% of its shares.