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Old May 19th, 2005, 08:51 AM   #201
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Australia's Patrick H1 earnings rise 11 percent

SYDNEY, May 19 (Reuters) - Australian transport group Patrick Corp. Ltd. , which holds a majority stake in airline Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. , said first-half net profit excluding one-off items rose 11 percent as its rail and port units offset lower earnings at the airline.

Patrick, which owns around 62 percent of the discount carrier that Richard Branson founded in 2000, said Virgin Blue contributed 28 percent less to earnings during the half.

"Virgin Blue faces a number of immediate challenges including excess capacity, higher jet fuel costs and rapidly rising airport charges. In the short run these are combining depress margins," Patrick said in a statement on Thursday.

Margin growth was also hindered at Patrick's ports business.

"This is likely to continue for the balance of the financial year but should progressively improve thereafter," Patrick said.

About half Patrick's earnings are from its ports, coastal shipping and stevedore operations, a quarter from its 50 percent stake in Pacific National and the remainder from Virgin Blue.

Patrick shares rose 2.5 percent to A$5.29 in early trade in an overall market up about 1 percent.

Patrick's net profit before one-off items was A$105.9 million ($80.2 million) in the six months to March 31.

After one-off items, net profit fell to A$99.87 million from A$121.06 million, Patrick said. Analyst forecasts in a Reuters survey averaged A$97.9 million.

Capital expenditure of A$127.7 million was up 94 percent in the half. High investment rates would continue for at least 18 months as Patrick invested in its port, rail and logistics business.

Virgin Blue, in which Branson's Virgin Group holds a 25.6 percent stake, said on Wednesday its annual net profit fell 13 percent, cut by increased competition and a 60 percent rise in fuel costs. Profit would be lower again this year, it said.

Virgin has snared about a third of the domestic market from its main competitor, Qantas, but Qantas has fought back by launching no-frills Jetstar.

Patrick's port unit competes with Britain's Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. . The company has a 50 percent stake in Pacific National, Australia's largest privately-owned rail network, which transports mainly coal and grain. ($1=A$1.32)
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Old May 20th, 2005, 04:45 AM   #202
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Macquarie Airports: Sydney April Traffic Up 5.7%
19 May 2005

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Australia's Macquarie Airports (MAP.AU) said passenger traffic at all of its airports grew in April, except at Birmingham Airport in the U.K., where it fell by 1.2%.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, MAP Chief Executive Kerrie Mather said the result was pleasing as Easter fell in March this year rather than April as in last year.

Traffic at Sydney airport rose 5.7% from April last year. [ 19-05-05 2351GMT ]

Passenger traffic at Brussels airport rose 2.7%, and traffic rose 5.2% at Bristol, compared to a year earlier.

Overall, passenger traffic rose 5.9% at MAP's Rome airports, with Fiumicino traffic up 2.4% and Ciampino rising 46.7% compared with April 2004.

MAP said traffic in Rome was negatively impacted by temporary reductions in flights due to increased security for the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the inauguration of Pope Benedict XIV.
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 02:13 PM   #203
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Business Times - 23 May 2005

Virgin Blue targets govt, business passengers


It will undercut bigger rival Qantas to help stem its declining earnings

(SYDNEY) Virgin Blue, Australia's second-biggest airline, is targeting a 30 per cent share of the nation's business and government passengers by undercutting bigger rival Qantas Ltd to help stem declining earnings.

'We've got 30 per cent of the overall market, we should be able to get something like 30 per cent of the business and government market,' Chris Corrigan, chief executive of Patrick Corp, which took control of the carrier in March, told Channel Nine's Business Sunday programme yesterday. 'I'd be disappointed if we can't do that.'

Virgin Blue, founded by UK billionaire Richard Branson in 2000, had a 20 per cent drop in half-year profits as fuel costs rose and competition jumped. The airline aims to boost its 'very small percentage' of more-profitable government and business passengers by offering cheaper seat prices, Mr Corrigan said. 'We're not aiming to get up to the price level of Qantas, we're aiming to be well under the price level of Qantas,' he said. 'If we can be 10 per cent under that's going to attract people to come to us.'

Virgin Blue shares fell 1.5 cent to A$1.68 at the market close in Sydney on Friday. Patrick's shares closed 15 cents higher at A$5.56.

Patrick, Australia's largest port-handler, lifted its stake in Virgin Blue to 62.4 per cent from 45.4 per cent after bidding A$1.90 a share for the rest of the carrier on Jan 28. Mr Branson's Virgin Group retains a 25.6 per cent stake.

Virgin Blue said on May 18 that net income declined to A$75.1 million (S$94.7 million) in the six months to March 31 after its fuel bill surged 65 per cent and competition from Qantas' one-year-old Jetstar unit drove down ticket prices.

Mr Corrigan, who has blamed rising airport fees for denting profits, said there were few extra cost efficiencies the company could bring in to bolster profits. 'I don't think there are any great cost downs that we can achieve,' he said.

Australian domestic airlines carried more than 38.7 million passengers in 2004, a 14 per cent increase from 2003, according to the government's Bureau of Transport and Regional Economies.

Since Virgin Blue began flying in 2000, the number of passengers carried by domestic airlines increased 29 per cent.

Qantas said on Feb 17 that net income in the six months ended Dec 31 rose 28 per cent to a record after cost cuts and a tax benefit.

OzJet Airlines Pty, owned by Minardi Formula One racing team boss Paul Stoddart, is also seeking to tap the market for business-class passengers in Australia.

OzJet, an all-business class airline to be based in Adelaide, South Australia state, is trying to obtain an air operator's licence from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and will probably get approval for a September launch date, Mr Stoddart also told the programme.

OzJet was unlikely to receive a licence that soon because the airline's aircraft were 30 years old and it took Virgin Blue even longer to gain approval with new planes, Patrick's Mr Corrigan said.

'I saw the start of the last Grand Prix and two Minardi were stillborn on the starting line and it sort of was a little prophetic for me,' Mr Corrigan said. Mr Stoddart will 'find it very difficult indeed'. - Bloomberg

Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 06:31 AM   #204
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Virgin circles for Qantas loyalty
Steve Creedy
25 May 2005
The Australian

RICHARD Branson's Virgin Atlantic has moved to take advantage of angst about today's Qantas frequent flyer changes by launching its own loyalty scheme in Australia with a double points offer.

In a bid to steal some of the local carrier's top-tier members, Virgin's "Flying Club" is also offering 500 gold Qantas or Cathay Pacific cardholders the ability to retain their status if they fly to Hong Kong or London.

The loyalty scheme comes as Atlantic last weekend launched a 2-for-1 fare offer to Hong Kong -- which prompted Qantas to respond with two-night packages from $679.

Atlantic's Australian sales and marketing manager, Gia Acitelli, confirmed yesterday that the offer was timed to take advantage of changes today to the Qantas frequent flyer scheme, which would require members to use more points to redeem tickets on many longer routes.

She said the loyalty scheme and the aggressive fare campaign were designed to raise brand awareness of its Sydney-Hong Kong-London flights and was not a response to low load factors.

"Load factors have been creeping up," she said.

"Virgin Blue has got such a strong brand in Australia and we basically need to do things to initiate the Atlantic brand.

"This is more for awareness and to show the difference between Atlantic and Blue."

The double points apply in all classes until the end of September. Membership to the Atlantic scheme is free and points can be earned or burned on partner airlines such as Singapore, Air NZ and Malaysian.

Points are transferable, members can confirm upgrades on international flights and there is no penalty for calling a customer service representative.

Ms Acitelli said the offer to match gold members' status was aimed at tapping into the corporate market.

"Qantas and British Airways have 60 per cent of the corporate market and we recognise ... how effective the Qantas frequent flyer is," she said.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 03:37 AM   #205
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OzJet stranded on the runway
By TANIA BAWDEN
23 May 2005
The Advertiser

THE scheduled September start for Adelaide-based business airline OzJet looks uncertain, with the first licence yet to clear the national aviation regulator.

England-based entrepreneur Paul Stoddart said he was waiting for approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on the first European-registered Boeing 737s for the new Australian service. Mr Stoddart told Channel 9's Business Sunday program he was negotiating a further two aircraft leases and planning cabin services from a small office in Melbourne.

"The most important one of the day is the progress on the (first OzJet) aeroplane just to get the licence," Mr Stoddart said. "Until that's done, we're going nowhere."

Mr Stoddart, who also owns the Formula 1 Minardi racing car team, said he was aiming to capture up to 5 per cent of domestic business travel once OzJet's fleet of 10 aircraft were operating regular services next year. He did not expect to start a price war with Qantas-Jetstar or Virgin Blue by offering business class services at economy fares pitched between both competitors.

However, Virgin Blue chairman Chris Corrigan said the OzJet concept would struggle to take off, even if the licences came through quickly.

"Oh, I think it's very, very tough because, in order to attract a business passenger, you really need to offer a wide range of routes and frequencies," said Mr Corrigan, who is chief executive of Virgin parent company Patrick Corp.

Mr Corrigan also told Business Sunday that Virgin Blue was looking to undercut Qantas's domestic business fares by as much as 10 per cent to significantly lift its share of that market segment.

"We've got 30 per cent of the overall market and I'd be disappointed if we can't get something like 30 per cent of the business and government market," Mr Corrigan said.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 06:15 AM   #206
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Qantas relaxes rules for using mobile phones
Steve Creedy
30 May 2005
The Australian

QANTAS domestic passengers will be allowed to make mobile phone calls once their flight has landed and as it approaches the airport terminal.

Business passengers will also, for the first time, be able to use mobile phones and personal digital assistants equipped with "flight mode" on board once the seatbelt sign has been turned off after take-off.

Flight mode switches off the transmitter in a phone or PDA but allows the device's other functions to be used. Users will be required to activate flight mode prior to turning the device off and all electronic equipment will still need to be switched off for landings and take-off.

In a relaxation of rules that align the Australian carrier more closely with overseas practices, Qantas will allow passengers on domestic flights, from June 7, to make calls after the aircraft has landed.

"The cabin crew will make an announcement soon after landing to inform customers when they can use their mobile phones," said Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti.

Qantas's softer stance on mobile phones comes as the US Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to completely lift its ban on mobile phone usage in planes.

The airline originally banned all mobile phone use on board because of hotly debated fears the devices could interfere with electronics on aircraft.

However, it has previously bowed to demand from business customers and allowed passengers on Cityflyer flights docked at aerobridges to use the devices until the cabin door was shut.

The latest concessions are primarily aimed at business travellers keen to stay in touch with the office and acknowledges the rapid spread of devices that combine phone, internet and PDA functions.

Qantas said the new policy, which has been approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, will initially apply only to domestic flights.

But it plans to expand the change to Qantas international flights, Qantaslink, Jetstar and Australian Airlines at a later stage.

Mobile phone groups argue the ability of the devices to affect aircraft safety has never been proven.

A US Federal Aviation Administration probe into whether they interfere with navigation systems has yet to report its findings.

A Civil Aviation safety Authority spokesman said the Australian aviation regulator would wait to see the results of the US inquiries before considering any changes.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association said it welcomed any moves to make rules for mobiles on aircraft more consistent and easier for consumers.

But AMTA spokesman Randal Markey said the industry was not lobbying for the in-flight ban to be lifted in Australia and believed the responsibility for the rules lay "first and foremost" with air safety authorities.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 06:35 PM   #207
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Real knives on Qantas menu
31 May 2005
The Australian

QANTAS is making a renewed push to provide steel dinner knives again on its flights.

The airline confirmed it was discussing the issue with the federal Government after the relaxation of rules governing cutlery in other parts of the world. A spokeswoman said the airline would reintroduce metal cutlery to all classes if it received permission.

"We believe as long as the cutlery has been given appropriate approval, it is more appropriate for our style of meal presentation," head of customer service, Lesley Grant, said yesterday.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 06:07 AM   #208
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It's in full flight
At last, our airport enters the 21st century

David Nankervis
29 May 2005
Sunday Mail

IT'S the view very few of us have seen - the aerobridges at Adelaide Airport's new $260 million international and domestic terminal.

With just 19 weeks remaining to the October 15 opening, most of the structural work on the state-of-the-art project has been completed and the size is impressive.

For those who drive past to reach the existing domestic terminal, the 14 aerobridges can't be seen - and nor can the work inside.

Passengers will be amazed at the sweeping southern vistas of the city and hills provided by the huge windows in the new three-storey terminal.

Passengers will even have a view as they walk along the glass aerobridges connecting the terminal and planes.

The top storey check-in hall and departure lounges are also huge.

"From a technological point of view, this terminal will be far superior to any other in the country," said Peter Salveson, a spokesman for building contractor Hansen Yuncken.

"It will provide an impressive gateway to South Australia."

Once completed, the terminal will have a floor area equal to three Adelaide Ovals, 14 aerobridges handling up to 27 aircraft and 3000 passengers an hour.

Among the 34 shops across 3400sq m will be a Coopers Alehouse, coffee shops and two eateries - one specialising in Asian food. The carpark will have ticket machines and a manned booth.

Construction of the new terminal began in November 2003 but was originally planned three years earlier, the delay caused by the introduction of Virgin Blue and the collapse of Ansett in 2000.

"We have finally caught up with the other capital cities and will soon boast the most modern airport in Australia," Adelaide Airport Limited managing director Phil Baker said.

"The use of windows has created beautiful views and great natural light and I'm sure passengers will be impressed with their first sight of Adelaide."

PLANE FACTS

Cost: $260 million

Servicing: Up to 27 regional, domestic and international flights simultaneously.

Terminal: 750m in length (equivalent to King William St from North Tce to Victoria Square) and 110m in width

Retail area: Spanning 3400sqm with fashion, gifts and souvenir outlets, duty free stores and newsagencies

Opening: October 15.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 07:43 PM   #209
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Qantas superjet shock - Carrier faces jumbo-sized problems from late double-decker deliveries
Steve Creedy
1 June 2005
The Australian

DELIVERY of Qantas's new flagship double-decker super-jumbo will be delayed by at least six months because of problems at European manufacturer Airbus, triggering penalty payments and damaging the national carrier's plans to secure its pre-eminence on the lucrative Pacific route.

The shock news comes less than two months after the Europeans trumpeted the successful maiden flight of the plane and two weeks before they go to battle with rival Boeing at the Paris airshow.

Airbus representatives delivered the bad news to Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon during the International Air Transport Associations annual general meeting in Tokyo this week.

The Australian understands delays apply to all aircraft in the A380 program and will also hit deliveries to Singapore Airlines and Emirates, leaving the manufacturer open to substantial penalties.

"We've expressed our disappointment to them," Mr Dixon said last night.

"We now want to sit down and make sure the new timetable is met and our people work closely with them to meet this deadline."

Qantas had been due to get the first of 12 A380s in October next year but it will not now arrive until April 2007.

The blow is a double one to Qantas because it had met all of Airbus's requirements for on-time delivery.

Mr Dixon said Airbus gave a variety of reasons for the delay, including difficulties in customising the A380 for individual airlines.

Qantas has a tight contract specifying delivery times of aircraft, and Mr Dixon confirmed last night there were penalties for delays and Qantas would seek compensation.

He said the airline's network planning staff were now looking at strategies for bridging the gap left by the delay.

He did not believe this would mean having to lease aircraft as a stop-gap measure. "It will involve us moving things around and maybe delaying retirement of aircraft," Mr Dixon said. "It's a bit too early for us to have a full handle on that."

Mr Dixon said Qantas had expressed concern about any distortion in delivery dates compared with other airlines.

"They said no, they would ensure that the deliveries, though six months late, would be in the same sequence and the same time differential with our competitors.

"We will work with them in the next couple of weeks to ensure this is the case."

Airbus spokesman Ted Porter said he could not confirm the delay. But journalists attending a briefing in Toulouse earlier this month were told they should expect a shift in delivery schedules after an Airbus analysis of its factory and suppliers.

Although airlines have been keeping the interior and special features of their A380s tightly under wraps, they are rumoured to include office areas, bars and even showers.

Qantas plans to seat 501 passengers in its A380s and wants to deploy its first four to boost capacity from Melbourne and Sydney to the US.

The 12 A380s will allow Qantas to fly at least 17 weekly services between Australia and Los Angeles and 14 weekly services between Australia and London via Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.

An interior being designed by Paris-based Australian designer Marc Newson is slated to include special lounge areas in first, business and economy classes as well as facilities for business meetings and business presentations.

Business class will feature an enhanced version of the Skybed, while economy class promises more space for passengers as well as better entertainment and seating.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 11:49 PM   #210
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Australian government calls for submissions on airport security

SYDNEY, June 1 (AFP) - The Australian government on Wednesday called for public submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into airport security amid growing public concern about aviation safety.

"We have ongoing security concerns about procedures at Australian airports, including in relation to baggage handling," said parliamentarian Bob Baldwin, chair of the investigating committee.

"Recent media reports of criminal activity have damaged the reputation of security systems in the aviation industry, and the Australian public needs to be reassured that these systems are protecting them and their property," he said in a statement.

On Tuesday the Australian government defended procedures employed to secure airports as a leaked internal customs report revealed that staff at Sydney airport were involved in drug smuggling and theft and posed terrorism threats.

The issue of airport staff stealing from passengers' luggage hit national headlines in April when a traveller complained that he saw a baggage handler driving around on the tarmac wearing a camel costume which had been packed in his bag.

Lawyers for convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, now serving a 20-year term in an Indonesian jail, have claimed that the 4.1 kilograms (nine pounds) of marijuana found in her baggage were placed there by corrupt baggage handlers working for a domestic drug ring.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 07:00 AM   #211
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Wheelchair-bound customers fight for their rights on airlines
Matthew Denholm
02 June 2005
The Australian

BUDGET airlines Jetstar and Virgin Blue face action before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after allegedly barring wheelchair-bound passengers from flights, on safety grounds.

A 55-year-old Launceston man with cerebral palsy is taking Virgin Blue to the commission, alleging the airline discriminated against him by refusing to allow him to travel unaccompanied on a flight from Melbourne to Hobart.

The man, whose case is due for a conciliation hearing before the commission, claims he was told he could not travel without a carer because he was not physically capable of carrying out emergency procedures.

In a separate case, two Tasmanian wheelchair athletes have vowed to take similar action against Jetstar, after a pilot last month allegedly refused to allow them to board a flight from Melbourne to Hobart without a carer.

In both cases, the passengers had been allowed to make the outward leg of their journey unimpeded, adding to claims by disability groups of an "ad hoc" approach by airlines.

Jetstar has ordered an investigation into last month's incident but yesterday said it appeared it was due to a "breakdown" in the airline's safety policy.

Disability advocacy groups warned a wide range of people could be excluded from air travel if the airlines continued to take a restricted view of safety policies.

"Safety is important but this approach would exclude many members of the community from (unaccompanied) air travel -- anyone with a mobility problem, whether it be elderly people, people with a disability or children," said Julian Eades, disability advocate with Advocacy Tasmania.

"Many of these people are on a pension and simply could not afford to pay for an extra ticket for a carer."
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 07:48 AM   #212
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More bad news for Qantas as load factor and analyst ratings slip

SYDNEY, June 2 (AFP) - Qantas Airways was hit with more bad news Thursday as it reported a drop in the portion of seats filled on its flights and a leading brokerage downgraded the Australian carrier's stock to "sell".

Qantas said the number of seats filled across all airline operations fell 0.7 points to 76.9 percent in April from a month earlier. The so-called load factor is a key measure of profitability.

The biggest drop in numbers came on international routes, where seats filled dropped 1.0 percentage point to 75.2 percent.

The portion of domestic seats filled eased 0.5 percentage points to 80.4 percent, it said.

Group passenger numbers however were up 8.2 percent from the previous April.

The latest figures were released a day after Qantas announced that delivery of the first of 12 Airbus A380 super-jumbos it had ordered would be delayed by six months until April 2007 by the European manufacturer.

In another development, brokerage Merrill Lynch said it was downgrading its recommendation on Qantas to "sell", saying it believes market expectations for the carrier's earnings for the June 2006 fiscal year are too high.

The firm said earnings downgrades were likely as a result.

"We also believe the need for Qantas management to make structural changes to the business to combat higher fuel prices raises the risk of industrial action," Merrill said in a note to clients.

As such, it said sentiment on Qantas was likely to remain negative for the short-term, in its view.

"Although Qantas is trading below our 3.41 dollar (2.56 US) valuation, we believe airlines trade on sentiment," it said. Qantas shares closed Wednesday unchanged at 3.22.

Merrill forecast an extra 440 million dollars in net fuel costs as Qantas is 40-50 percent unhedged on crude oil and 75 percent on the refining margin in fiscal 2006.

"We expect this price impact to push up Qantas' cost base by 440 million Australian dollars, even after assuming full recovery of the fuel surcharges which looks challenging in itself in the current benign pricing environment," Merrill said.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 12:33 AM   #213
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OzJet set to spread wings . . . and fly
3 June 2005
The Courier-Mail

AUSTRALIAN domestic airline OzJet yesterday said it was on course to begin offering flights in the next four months.

Chief executive Hans van Pelt said the airline, owned by Paul Stoddart -- the Melbourne expatriate who also owns Italy's Minardi Formula One racing team -- should have its flying certificate by then.

"We are moving ahead rapidly and believe we are on course to be flying in the not too distant future, hopefully in September/October," he said.

OzJet has spent several months preparing to apply for an air operator's certificate, the licence needed to operate scheduled passenger services in Australia.

"We are now into the formal part of this process, which takes a minimum of three months before an airline is granted approval and is able to promote and operate its scheduled services within Australia," Mr van Pelt said.

OzJet is drawing on the expertise of European Aviation, Mr Stoddart's long-established British-based operation which has flown to about 500 airports around the world.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 05:36 PM   #214
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Call for new body to govern air security
Martin Chulov, Simon Kearney
4 June 2005
The Australian

A NEW body to govern police, Customs and ASIO at the nation's airports is being considered by Transport Minister John Anderson, who has conceded a lack of co-operation could be contributing to growing organised crime.

Mr Anderson yesterday said he was concerned by claims that federal authorities responsible for monitoring secure areas of the airport were not passing on vital intelligence about criminal networks.

Sydney Airport chief Max Moore-Wilton called for an airport body to be urgently set up, and for governments to "get their act together".

NSW Police Minister Carl Scully backed the plan, insisting the crime alleged in the leaked classified Customs report detailed in The Australian this week, occurred solely in areas governed by the commonwealth.

"There needs to be a co-ordinated approach to dealing with all issues relating to crime and security at Sydney airport, and indeed at all major airports in Australia and that clearly still doesn't happen," Mr Moore-Wilton said.

The federal Government has made counter-terrorism a priority at airports since the September 11 attacks and has given the Australian Protective Service little more than a terrorism first-response role.

Mr Anderson admitted last night more needed to be done to fight other forms of crime at Australian airports.

Airport security officials joined Mr Anderson and Mr Moore-Wilton in acknowledging that terrorism could no longer be treated in isolation from criminal issues.

"The whole issue of law enforcement in airports I think is now open to question, Mr Moore-Wilton said.

"And I think the general public is now concerned that airports are not as safe as they should be." The comments follow four days of embarrassment from the secret Customs report alleging baggage handlers, airport security screeners and other airport workers with secure passes, were involved in organised crime.

Mr Anderson strongly defended his record on aviation security and his claim to federal Parliament that the concerns raised in the Customs report had largely been addressed.

He also said he had acted quickly on a letter written two weeks ago by Mr Moore-Wilton alerting him to the need for more co-ordination.

"As soon as that was received it was passed to the Prime Minister." He said another crackdown was needed on issuing secure airside passes and said ASIO found the need to get access to five different state and federal databases before issuing a pass "frustrating".

Mr Anderson said the NSW Government had removed state police from the airport and its offer to return them at $80 each an hour was "ludicrous".

He called on NSW to urgently reopen the airport police station it closed last year.

Mr Scully dismissed the suggestion, insisting airports were unambiguously a federal responsibility.

He said no airport worker should have a serious criminal conviction. And he called for law changes to ensure airport workers were banned from associating with any known criminal and for their bags to be checked entering and leaving work.

After announcing another baggage handler had been sacked yesterday, Qantas chief executive officer Geoff Dixon called on the state Government to commit to a permanent police station at Sydney Airport. "Of the 100 major airports in the world, only three do not have a permanent, uniformed police presence dedicated to community policing -- Brisbane, Sydney and Mumbai," Mr Dixon said.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 05:37 PM   #215
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Airports 'are the new wharves'
Unions are being blamed for a culture of control said to render security at the country's major airport useless
The Australian
June 4, 2005

AT the end of one of his most turbulent weeks as tsar of Sydney airport, Max Moore-Wilton turned his mind to the past.

"I was once part of a team that helped break the painters and dockers," the former government powerbroker said. "And, believe me, it was not a pleasant experience."

Back then, wharves were the primary entry point into Australia. They were honeypots for criminals drawn by easy pickings -- and ease of access.

Now it is the airports that receive the bulk of light cargo and people in ever-increasing numbers. In the 12 months to last July, Sydney airport processed 26.4million passengers, who came and went on 266,745 planes.

Those familiar with the era, in which the Painters and Dockers Union ran organised criminal networks on the waterfront, claim Sydney airport has become the new domain for smuggling goods and pilfering.

The now subsumed union ruled the waterfront with a ruthless eye for opportunity. And it forged its influence in a security vacuum.

According to a classified Customs report, detailed in The Australian this week, Customs staff fear that a stranglehold over the 62,000 workers at Sydney airport by the Transport Workers Union has led to a climate ripe for exploitation.

Customs complains that its monitoring of workers in sensitive airside areas is being blocked by the heavily unionised environment in which restrictive work practices render security ineffective. There are at least seven categories of workers with secure airside access -- baggage handlers, cleaners, trolley workers, ramp workers, truck drivers, air crews and security screeners. Each has tightly demarcated roles and staunch control over its work environments.

The report said that with a "very strong unionised presence on the tarmac area, and the ever-threatening intervention of union delegates in matters arising between the Australian Customs Service and the tarmac/airline employees, the area surrounding the basement and employees with access to aircraft is one which is fraught with controversy".

Not so, says the TWU, which represents the group of workers most under the spotlight, baggage handlers.

"If anyone, the Government or businesses, has any concerns about obstructions to security, they have never raised it with us, " said TWU spokesman Nimrod Nyols. "For the past four years baggage handlers have been pointing out problems with airport security."

Qantas was also circumspect, saying strong union representation among its workforce had not caused security problems.

Mr Moore-Wilton, however, urged caution. "Having worked on the wharves in the past, you just have to keep up to the mark because the people out there that make lots and lots of money from breaking the law are always thinking up new ways to do it," he said.

Other senior figures in the aviation and port industries, who did not want to be identified, say the similarities between the wharves of a bygone era and today's airports are stronger than acknowledged.

"The airports are the new wharves -- it is an exact analogy," said one source. "There was no theft on the waterfront while the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia) was there in charge of security. But when it was contracted out, suddenly higher rates were detected."

But Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister John Anderson, asked yesterday for his view, strongly dismissed the suggestion.

"I honestly don't believe that," he told The Weekend Australian. "Until 1998 there was no security backgrounding at our air or sea ports. There were people working on the wharves with serious criminal records and even war records from Europe.

"The re-issuing of (secure access) cards and the stringent screening behind them really did see to that."

Mr Moore-Wilton said this week's revelations will prove a turning point for aviation security. "Sydney airport can't put its head in the sand and say this will blow over. It won't blow over. What has happened at Sydney airport can also happen at other airports if the system is not right."
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Old June 5th, 2005, 07:27 PM   #216
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Sydney airport security boost
5 June 2005
Sunday Mail

SYDNEY Airport will get a new security supremo to deal with growing concerns about criminal and terrorist activity at Kingsford Smith.

The security chief will be appointed by the Federal Government and will have counterparts at all international airports across Australia.

The move comes as three former NSW police said that airlines and authorities have been aware of serious criminal activity at Sydney Airport for almost 30 years.

All three pointed to specific instances in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s where baggage handlers or Qantas staff had been involved in corrupt activity.

The plan for a new security boss follows a week of bickering over who should take responsibility for law enforcement at Sydney Airport.

Criticism started last month after police smashed a cocaine smuggling ring which allegedly used baggage handlers to import the drugs.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:31 AM   #217
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RESEARCH ALERT-Smith Barney lowers Qantas profit forecasts

SYDNEY, June 6 (Reuters) - Smith Barney has lowered its earnings forecasts for Qantas Airways Ltd. , saying a lower Australian dollar would make fuel more expensive.

Smith Barney retained a "Buy" rating on the stock, saying Qantas was "one of the most attractive airlines globally."

"We believe Qantas remains undervalued relative to other major local and international airlines," analysts said in a research note.

"Qantas remains better placed than most airlines in relation to rising fuel costs, with fuel surcharges likely to raise around A$1 billion ($758 million) in fiscal 2006. We believe Qantas has a quality brand, respected management, and a well-defined strategy to further reduce costs," it said.

Still, Smith Barney cut its net profit forecast for the year to June 30 by 3.6 percent and by 6.9 percent for fiscal 2006. It gave a 12 month target share price of A$4.41, down from a previous A$4.55.

The changes reflected lower currency assumptions, with an expected Australian dollar <AUD=> of 76 U.S. cents versus a previous 77 cents impacting its fuel bill.

Delays to the delivery of Airbus A380s to Qantas were expected to have little, if any, financial impact.

Qantas shares were 0.6 percent lower at A$3.27 in a flat overall market.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 11:36 AM   #218
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You know, you might actually get some replies if you posted these in the Transportation forum in Ozscrapers.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:55 PM   #219
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^ I don't think he's looking for replies.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 03:47 PM   #220
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I'll post future articles in there for discussion.
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