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Old July 29th, 2005, 06:05 AM   #281
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$100m to fly through the airport
21 July 2005
The Australian

SYDNEY Airport is planning a $100 million revamp of its international terminal to improve facilities and streamline the movement of passengers through the nation's busiest terminal.

In addition to this program, another $100 million has been earmarked for new aerobridges and wider taxiways and runways to accommodate the A380 superjumbo when it starts service next year.

"We're looking at where we take the terminal in the next stage after that, and that's another $100 million-plus," Sydney Airport chief executive Max Moore-Wilton said yesterday. "We're looking at the whole issue of how to modernise the terminal."

Mr Moore-Wilton said the airport was already working with airlines on technological breakthroughs such as self-service check-in and automatic baggage handling.

"You are obviously going to have biometric passports coming in (and) there's going to be greater separation of regular travellers and leisure travellers," he said.

"We want to upgrade the service for premium passengers. We're talking to the airlines about how we might get more streamlined premium passenger processing though our terminal.

"We're talking upgrading of the lounges -- the new Emirates lounge will open shortly, Singapore Airlines is looking at its lounge for the A380 and Qantas has some major work going on looking at its lounge product.

"So there's a lot of that pre-specification work going on at the moment which I believe will lead to a lot of changes over the next three to five years."

In the short term, Mr Moore-Wilton said the airport was considering giving premium passengers their own processing line through border agencies. He said he hoped to have some trials running in the next 12 months.

"Premium passengers will adapt very quickly to new technology so we're looking at how we might make that whole process a lot better for them," he said.

Mr Moore-Wilton's comments came as a reduction in New Zealand, Japanese, US and Canadian travellers to Sydney in June contributed to lower international passenger growth of 4 per cent.

The lacklustre international growth and a rise in domestic traffic of just 2.3 per cent meant overall traffic was just 2.8 per cent higher than a year ago.

International airport traffic at the airport has been growing at a rate of 13.8 per cent since the 2003 SARS epidemic and officials blamed the low June figures on the timing of Easter and school holidays in Australia as well as a slowing of the economy.

New Zealand figures were also boosted last year by a British Lions rugby tour.

Nonetheless, Sydney found itself at the lower end of June growth for major investor Macquarie Airport's portfolio of investments.

Brussels grew by 6.1 per cent in June, Aeroporti di Roma by 12.9 per cent, Birmingham by 9.2 per cent and Bristol by 11 per cent.

Only Copenhagen fared worse than Sydney, with a 2.1 per cent increase.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 06:52 AM   #282
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thanks hkskyline..Just to encourage you, i do read these...keep em up
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Old July 29th, 2005, 07:40 AM   #283
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Proud_Melburnian
thanks hkskyline..Just to encourage you, i do read these...keep em up
Thanks for your support. Are there specific areas where you like to see regular coverage? I have a lot of information on Australian aviation daily and I'm trying to filter out what to post. I've been hearing a lot about the Middle Eastern carriers "invading" Australia these days. How is the sentiment on the streets about this?
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Old July 29th, 2005, 10:58 AM   #284
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I read it too and appreciate the updates.
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Old July 31st, 2005, 11:11 AM   #285
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good on ya mate, I also read all the stuff.
Regarding the Middle Eastern carriers, I think people are happy to have them here to increase competitions, they are great airlines (and the Collingwood footy club are happy to take their sponsorship cash!)
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Old July 31st, 2005, 07:57 PM   #286
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Did we say 10? Virgin now counts fleet of 50
Steve Creedy
1 August 2005
The Australian

THE original plan was to grow into an airline with a fleet of 10 aircraft.

Yesterday, hundreds of staff watched as Virgin Blue landed its 50th "Next Generation" Boeing 737 aircraft at Brisbane Airport to cement its place as the world's sixth-biggest operator of Next Generation Boeing 737s.

The dramatic plunge into oblivion of Ansett Australia and the Australian public's thirst for cheap airfares fuelled triple-digit growth at Virgin Blue as it blossomed in just five years from a carrier with $10 million in start-up capital, two planes and 200 staff into a national network carrier employing almost 3800 people.

Virgin is now one of Queensland's biggest employers and, even with a share price languishing at $1.60 after unfavourable notes from analysts, has a market capitalisation of more than $1.5 billion and revenues in 2004-05 of $1.6 billion.

"Not many companies have ever done that, let alone aviation companies," chief executive Brett Godfrey said during the plane's delivery in Seattle.

Virgin employees queued yesterday to search 5687 names inscribed on the plane's overhead lockers -- the monicker of everyone who has worked for the airline and its associated companies since its launch in 2000.

Looking back over the past five years, Mr Godfrey said the airline's biggest achievements were to introduce travellers to internet bookings and to make air travel more affordable for more Australians.

He said the airline took great pride in the fact that airfares were about half what they were five years ago in today's dollars.

"In the past, people might have still spent $500 a year on travel but now they can travel five times for that as opposed to once as it used to be," he said.

"And I genuinely believe that we have a much more efficient industry in Australia as a result of us coming in and allowing Qantas to have the leverage they needed for their `Sustainable Futures' (cost-cutting) program. I think on the sly they'd say it's been a good thing having us come in -- they've got a lot more market and they've got a more efficient business."

But he warned that high fuel prices and increased competition were making the going tougher for all airlines.

Virgin has outlived both Ansett and Impulse Airlines to find itself battling high fuel prices and the launch of Qantas's low-cost offshoot, Jetstar.

Mr Godfrey now believes there is limited ability to stimulate the Australian market with lower prices, and the new battleground will be for corporate customers.

Virgin is expanding its product offering and hopes to be able to announce details of its long-awaited frequent flyer program by the end of the year.

"Now it has become more of a market share game as opposed to a growth grab, which it was," he said.

"We had that time where we did take a piece of the pie and we didn't really tackle other people's business. We lowered yields but we didn't take anybody's passengers and now it's more competitive and intense."

Australia would remain the airline's key market but it continued to look at options for expanding in and across the Pacific.

"We've got a five-year strategy but it's very hypothetical and will remain so until we see some clarity as to what happens with the Government and their Australian aviation review -- whether the current bilateral arrangements stack up and stay or whether they slowly break down.

"One of the arguments that we've put forward -- it's a Qantas argument and it's a good one -- is it's not just a matter of government support. You've got to look at depreciation rates and tax rates."

He also believed the airline's "culture" would be a key to its future. "We genuinely still do have, five years down the track, a can-do attitude," he said.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 03:19 AM   #287
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Ozjet boss sees smooth take-off for niche airline
Steve Creedy
5 August 2005
The Australian

Paul Stoddart believes his biz jet will do well, writes Steve Creedy

OZJET chairman Paul Stoddart is confident his latest venture will make money in its first year and has rejected predictions it will struggle to survive.

Mr Stoddart arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday with the start-up's second 737-200 painted in Ozjet colours and configured with 60 generously-proportioned business class seats.

"We're obviously a little bit behind but nowhere near as behind as what a lot of people thought we would be," he says.

"We're still on target for the end-of-October launch and our third aircraft will be here by then.

"It's all going well. There are issues, but I suppose if it was easy everybody would do it."

Many pundits and airline executives question how Ozjet, even with a stated break-even load factor of around 50 per cent, will survive in an increasingly competitive Australian market.

But Mr Stoddart says they are "quite wrong" and that Ozjet will occupy an important niche in the market.

He says the airline would be exposed to fluctuating fuel prices in the same way its competitors were, but there was little it could do on that front.

"If we've got our figures wrong then we'll take pain," he says.

"But on our current estimations -- and nothing I've seen has made me downwardly revise these figures -- it's profitable in year one and break-even load factor is obviously lower than anyone else's."

The Minardi Formula One racing team boss estimated last year it would cost him about $70 million to set up the airline and he says about 75 per cent of that money had already been spent.

But he says the company is carrying no debt and owns its aircraft outright.

"These are big differences -- there are an awful lot of the heavy costs of airlines that we're not going to be carrying," he says.

Ozjet will provide business-class wining and dining at fully-flexible economy-class ticket prices. It also aims to take the stress out of flying by reducing travel and queueing times and allowing business people up to three carry-on items.

Stoddart says travellers wanting the comfort and convenience of business class currently have no alternative to Qantas, and are paying nearly double Ozjet's proposed prices. The response from travel agents and corporate and government sector travellers had been overwhelmingly positive.

"I think it will actually get quite a good following,' he says. "You're talking about plenty of cabin space, a much better allowance of carry-on baggage, and the whole thing's geared around point-to-point times.

Continued -- Page 33

From Page 34

"We will get you there quicker and get you through and out the other side quicker."

Ozjet's air operator's certificate (AOC) is on track for a late September approval. The airline says it has so far recruited 16 pilots and 24 cabin crew in addition to a management team.

Cabin crew are due to begin training in Melbourne and pilots are doing ground training in Melbourne before heading to the UK for simulator and line training.

Once it has its AOC, Ozjet will launch a brand awareness campaign that could include the opportunity for customers to win a ride in a Formula One two-seater or an executive chair from the Concorde.

Not everything has gone according to plan. Drawn-out negotiations with South Australia over financial support to base the airline's headquarters in Adelaide has prompted Ozjet to establish an "interim" HQ in Melbourne. It has also reined in its launch network to a single route: Melbourne-Sydney.

Chief executive Hans van Pelt says Adelaide is still a contender for the airline's HQ but the Melbourne move was necessary for the AOC process and to get operations under way.

Van Pelt says the stripped-down start-up plans are a result of the launch date's proximity to the Christmas break, when business travel traditionally dips.

However, the Ozjet CEO hopes to follow the original plan and add destinations such as Canberra, Brisbane and Perth "as soon as we possibly can".

He says the airline might still consider flying Bae-146s on smaller routes.

"Still, we're talking about a 10- aircraft fleet offering some good frequencies but on selected markets, so it stays boutique, it stays niche," van Pelt says.
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Old August 11th, 2005, 12:36 AM   #288
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Wednesday August 10, 1:24 PM
Australia's Qantas says it is considering fifth fuel levy hike

SYDNEY, (AFP) - Australia's national airline Qantas said it is considering a fifth hike in its fuel levy to counteract the impact of surging oil prices.

The company's chief financial officer Peter Gregg said that the company had already cut 200 senior management positions and was considering lifting its fuel levy in the face of increasing competition.

Crude oil prices surged on Tuesday, pushing towards 64 US dollars a barrel and Gregg said the airline's fuel bill for this year could be 1.2 billion dollars (92 million US dollars) higher than previously.

"While hedging and surcharges will partially offset this, we still face a 600 million dollar shortfall compared with last year," Gregg told an aviation summit.

"We are cautiously considering a fifth surcharge to recover some of this.

"But any decision will have to take account of the demand impact, which we've seen in previous surcharges, particularly in price-sensitive leisure markets."

Qantas passengers now pay a 20 dollar fuel surcharge per sector while those with low-cost carriers Jetstar and Virgin Blue pay 19 dollars.

Jetstar, which is a subsidiary of Qantas, said Wednesday it was also considering raising the fuel levy.

"I think there are a few things to be considered in that debate -- the potential impact it would have on demand -- and we are looking at all aspects of it, but no firm decision has been made yet," chief executive Alan Joyce said.

Rival Virgin Blue also said it was monitoring the price of oil but had not made any decision on the fuel surcharge.

"We are monitoring the situation closely, but right now we don't have any actual plans because a fuel surcharge always has an impact on consumer demand, so it is always a trade off," Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd chief commercial officer Stefan Pichler said.
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Old August 11th, 2005, 12:41 AM   #289
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Australia's Jetstar Mulls Raising Fuel Surcharge

SYDNEY, Aug 10 Asia Pulse - Low cost carrier Jetstar is considering raising its fuel surcharge as world oil prices rise above $US64 a barrel.

The news comes after Qantas (ASX:QAN) chief financial officer Peter Gregg said the airline was considering imposing a fifth fuel surcharge on ticket prices.

Jetstar chief executive Alan Joyce said that like the Qantas group overall, Jetstar would react in the same way to the increase in oil prices and is reviewing the fuel surcharge.

However Mr Joyce said any fuel surcharge increase could impact demand.

"I think there are a few things to be considered in that debate - the potential impact it would have on demand - and we are looking at all aspects of it, but no firm decision has been made yet," he said.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 06:49 AM   #290
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Sydney Airport: Plans A$120M Terminal Upgrades
9 August 2005

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Sydney Airports Corp. chief executive Max Moore-Wilton said Tuesday that the nation's busiest airport plans a A$120 million upgrade to its terminals to help accommodate increased passenger numbers.

"This project is designed to take Sydney Airport through its next phase of expansion involving larger more efficient aircraft," Moore-Wilton told a Sydney aviation industry conference.

The Airbus A380 super-jumbo has been ordered by airport users including national flag carrier Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU), its major regional rival Singapore Airlines Ltd. (S55.SG) and Emirates Airlines (EA.YY).

Moore-Wilton said more than A$100 million could be required to upgrade international terminal facilities including retail, check-in and immigration areas.

The group, which is part-owned by Macquarie Airports (MAP.AU), also plans a A$20 million upgrade of the domestic terminal facility that was previously operated by Ansett.
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Old August 12th, 2005, 06:50 AM   #291
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Australia's Brisbane Airport Eyes Debt Market
By Linda McSweeny
9 August 2005

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Australia's Brisbane Airport Corporation Pty Ltd (BAC) is poised to raise A$1 billion in the local or offshore debt markets as early as the end of this year to finance its proposed terminal and runway expansion.

BAC Chief Financial Officer Tim Rothwell said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires that the company, which almost tripled net profit before tax and shareholder distributions to A$50.7 million in 2004/05, will need about A$1 billion for the projects during the next 8 to 10 years.

The Brisbane facility is Australia's third largest airport after Sydney and Melbourne with more than 3.2 million people passing through its international terminal in the year ended June 30, 2005.

Plans by Brisbane Airport to raise funding for its expansion follows rival Sydney Airport's refinancing last September of more than A$3 billion in bank and capital market debt.

BAC is planning to build a parallel runway, expand the airport's international terminal and construct a new northern access road to connect with a diversion of the nearby Gateway Motorway.

The airport will also at some stage need to expand its domestic terminal, Rothwell said.

"Within the next 8 to 10 years we'd expect to spend about A$1 billion on those various projects," Rothwell said in an interview.

"In terms of funding, at this stage we'd expect funding the majority of that by debt."

Rothwell said BAC would look at options including a bond issue in the Australian market or entering the U.S. private placement market.

"My view is that we're looking for the best commercial deal for Brisbane Airport and we'll look at any options, whether it be U.S. placements, credit wrap bonds, longer term bank debt, a bond issued in the Australian market, if overall that gave us an attractive term and also gave us an attractive price of debt," Rothwell said.

BAC is part of a holding company whose shareholders include Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Port of Brisbane Corporation, Brisbane City and other institutional investors.

The group purchased the long-term leasehold for the airport as part of a privatization of federal government-owned airports in the 1990s.

Rothwell suggested there was no need to expand its shareholding to finance the planned expansion. "We don't see the need to look at new equity," he said.

"I think the company's capable of funding that through increased debt."

BAC's consideration of the Australian debt market as a possible source of funding comes at a time when the local environment is becoming more attractive to borrowers.

As U.S. interest rates continue to edge up and the Reserve Bank keeps local rates on hold, competitive credit spreads have helped to boost Australian issuance in recent months.

Liquidity has also been increasing with as much as A$16 billion in local bonds maturing in late July, leaving fixed income investors scouting for new opportunities in the corporate debt market.

While BAC will assess any competitive local or international debt option, Rothwell was upbeat about the improved pricing outlook for new debt issues within Australia.

"I think it's clear that there are significant funds available now, compared to say two or three years ago," he said.

"As a borrower, the debt market has improved dramatically so we'd certainly expect to see fairly aggressive pricing on any new issue of debt in the next couple of years."

BAC's borrowing plans would almost double its existing debt exposure with about A$1.1 billion already in the market of which A$700 million is 10-year credit wrap bonds through MBIA, and about A$400 million in bank financing.

"Over time, then we'd look to increase that by probably close to A$1 billion, and that would similarly be a combination of long-term debt and the shorter-term bank debt," Rothwell said.

But any move is months away while BAC assesses the timing and cost estimates of the planned expansion.

"We don't expect to be going into the market for new debt until I would say late 2005, early 2006, as we started to firm up some of the timing and cost estimates associated with those various projects," Rothwell said.

"So until we get to that stage we really won't be doing too much."
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Old August 14th, 2005, 08:01 AM   #292
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Qantas plans bio-test checks
ELLEN CONNOLLY
14 August 2005
Sunday Telegraph

QANTAS may introduce biometric checks on domestic and international flights to verify the identity of every traveller.

But the anti-terror measure, which uses high-tech eye and facial scans, would lead to another increase in air fares.

In a submission to afederal inquiry into aviation security, Qantas said the checkwould work by capturing "biometric identifiers" at airport check-in desks and linking them to boarding passes.

Regular travellers could have their biometric identifier stored on their frequent-flyer or Qantas Club cards.

The move follows similar trials in Britain and the US, where governments are relying more heavily on biometrics.

Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman said people were giving up more and more of their privacy in the glib notion that it was promoting the fight against terrorism.

"We don't oppose increased use of technology if there are benefits, but biometrics at airports raises the question of who stores it, who controls it and who has access to it."

The Transport Department said biometrics would beaneffective tool asAustralia began compiling a list of people of concern.

"At present, there is no requirement for domestic passengers to present ID on boarding," it said.
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Old August 15th, 2005, 02:33 AM   #293
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Virgin in slow lane on kangaroo route
ANDREW CLARK, SYDNEY
15 August 2005
The Age

VIRGIN Atlantic's high-profile effort to crack the Australian market is proving a struggle for the British airline, which has admitted it is carrying poor loads and running up bigger losses than it expected.

Sir Richard Branson's carrier began flying the so-called kangaroo route from London to Sydney, via Hong Kong, in December. The airline pledged to shatter what it described as the "duopoly" held by Qantas and British Airways.

However, senior Virgin executives are increasingly concerned at the route's poor performance.

The Age has learned that the airline is trying to negotiate a code-share with Singapore Airlines on flights between Singapore and Sydney, offering an alternative to its money-losing independent venture.

Virgin's head of Asia-Pacific operations, Mackenzie Grant, said that progress was slow.

"We think it's going to take longer to get the load up to where we thought it would be," he said.

Mr Grant said that the financial outlay was proving greater than planned. "The economic performance hasn't been quite what we expected."

However, he dismissed rumours Virgin was considering pulling the plug on the venture, which Sir Richard last year described as a long-held personal ambition. "Can you imagine what it would do to us if we pulled off?" asked Mr Grant. "As a company, we're pretty keen to stay on routes. We don't pull off routes at the drop of a hat."

Virgin carried just over 3000 passengers into Australia in April and 3600 out of the country, according to the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics' statistics. Its inbound flights were 33 per cent full and 36 per cent of its outbound seats were occupied.

Mr Grant said loads had increased over the winter to about 50 per cent on outbound flights from Sydney and 70 per cent on inbound aircraft.

The improvement, however, was aided by a two-for-one offer on economy seats to Hong Kong. The airline is "rationalising" its fares to offer standard return tickets of between $700 and $800 to the Chinese city.

Negotiations are under way for a deal with Singapore Airlines, which owns a 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic. Under the proposal, Virgin could attach its flight codes to services from Singapore but flights would still be operated by Singapore Airlines' aircraft.

However, Mr Grant said a final agreement was some way off. Virgin would need to secure traffic rights for the route, he said.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 06:01 PM   #294
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Thursday August 18, 4:16 PM
Qantas Year-End Results Rise 18 Percent

AP - Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. on Thursday reported a better-than-expected 18 percent rise in annual net profit to 763.6 million Australian dollars, or $580.2 million, but warned it will have to slash jobs as it battles soaring fuel prices.

Sales rose 11 percent the year through June to A$12.65 billion ($9.6 billion) from A$11.35 billion last year.

Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said the "extraordinary" cost of fuel would lead to lower profits in fiscal 2006.

"While further reforms in the business are underway, and coupled with the high fuel price, we do not expect to achieve the same levels of profitability in the current financial year," Dixon said in the statement.

Dixon also announced that a cost-cutting program, known as Sustainable Future, will be extended for two years.

Initially planned as a three-year drive to save more than $1 billion, the program will strive to cut another $1 billion during the 2007 and 2008 fiscal years, he said.

"This will involve some very difficult decisions," Dixon said in a statement.

"There will be job losses," he said at a press conference. "I'm not going to put a percentage on it, we are having meetings this afternoon, I'll be talking to managers tomorrow, and we have put a notice out to staff today."

The company, which has around 38,000 employees, 93 percent of whom work in Australia, would consider sending jobs overseas if it would enhance the company's profitability, Dixon said.

"We are looking at everything as far as transforming the company, we will do what is best for our people, for our shareholders, and the viability of Qantas," he told reporters.

Sustainable Future delivered A$545 million ($414 million) in savings in 2005 fiscal year, including labor savings of A$150 million ($114 million) and A$279 million ($212 million) in fleet, product and overhead initiatives.

Also Thursday, Qantas' main rival for domestic passengers, Virgin Blue, said oil prices were eating into its profits.

Virgin said Thursday its annual net profit will be between A$90 million ($68.4 million) and A$100 million ($76 million) for its current fiscal year to the end of September, down from A$159 million ($121 million) in the previous corresponding period.
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Old August 21st, 2005, 05:28 AM   #295
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Sunday August 21, 9:58 AM
9 hurt after Qantas plane makes emergency landing at Kansai airport

(Kyodo) Nine passengers were taken to hospital after sustaining injuries while evacuating a Qantas Airways plane that made an emergency landing early Sunday at Kansai airport due to a possible fire in its cargo compartment, local police and firefighters said.

Local authorities dispatched some 30 fire engines and ambulances to the airport in Osaka Prefecture on reports that the Airbus 330, which had left Narita airport for Perth, Australia, with 194 passengers and crewmembers aboard, was making a landing following the activation of a smoke alarm.

But rescue workers saw no signs of fire when the plane landed shortly before 1 a.m., though some passengers said they had smelled "something burning," police said.

The nine passengers -- six Japanese, two Australians and one Chinese -- were injured when they were evacuated via emergency escape equipment. Of them, a Japanese woman was seriously injured with a fractured hip, the rescue workers said.

More than 10 other passengers were believed to have sustained minor injuries, they said.

According to officials at the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry's airport branch office, the pilot decided to make the emergency landing after he saw the smoke alarm light for the cargo compartment flash.

Although he soon activated the fire extinguishing system, he could not confirm if the possible fire had been put out, so he decided to make a precautionary landing, the officials said.
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Old August 22nd, 2005, 04:50 AM   #296
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FACTBOX-Toll targets Australia's Patrick; Branson plan

SYDNEY, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Australian transport group Toll Holdings Ltd. has made an unsolicited A$4.6 billion ($3.5 billion) cash and scrip bid for rival Patrick Corp. , which also owns 62.4 percent of airline Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. .

Below are the key points:

OFFER

For each Patrick share, Toll is offering 0.4 Toll shares, 75 cents in cash and a special dividend from Patrick of 0.3 Virgin Blue shares. This would represent about 20 percent of Virgin Blue's shares.

SAVINGS

Toll said the acquisition was expected to be earnings per share positive for both Patrick, Australia's largest stevedore, and Toll shareholders on earnings for the year ending June 2006.

Toll also said savings of more than A$50 million a year could be achieved by the acquisition, which would create a group with more than A$7 billion in annual revenues.

A combined group would take the strain off Patrick's "significant capital reinvestment" requirements, estimated at about A$1.1 billion over the next three years, said Toll.

RESPONSE

Patrick said the bid was unsolicited and it would convene a board meeting to review the proposal. It noted the company was "well into an investment cyle that should lead to long term consistent growth" from its stable of businesses.

SIZE

A successful bid would expand Toll's interests to Australia's major container ports, give it 100 percent of its Pacific National rail freight joint venture with Patrick, and beef up its share of the road transport industry. Patrick's biggest competitor on the waterfront is Britain's P&O .

Patrick owns 62.4 percent of Virgin Blue, which has around 30 percent of the domestic passenger market, after launching a A$1.1 billion bid earlier this year for the low-cost airline.

DEAL WITH RICHARD BRANSON

Toll plans to restructure Patrick's stake in Virgin Blue to reduce the combined group's exposure to the air passenger market, which could involve Richard Branson's Virgin Group [VA.UL] increasing its stake to up to 40.6 percent from 25.6 percent.

Toll said this reflected "an intended increased investment in and management commitment to the airline" from the Virgin Group.

Toll, which would negotiate with Virgin Blue to transfer its airfreight requirements to the airline, said it would retain at least 10 percent of Virgin Blue for at least 30 months.

PROFITS

Toll said on Monday its net profit before one-off items rose 28 percent to A$215.8 million for the year ended June 30 on operating revenues of A$3.8 billion.

Patrick said in November its net profit before one-off items rose 25 percent to A$190.3 million for the year ended Sept. 20 on operating revenue of A$1.25 billion. ($1=A$1.33) (Sources: Toll and Patrick statements, company websites)
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Old August 23rd, 2005, 07:23 PM   #297
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Australia's Qantas increases fuel surcharges

CANBERRA, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Australia's biggest airline Qantas Airways Ltd. increased its fuel surcharges on tickets on Tuesday, but said the company would still face a A$650 million ($492 million) shortfall on its fuel bill.

Qantas said that at current prices its fuel bill would rise by more than A$1.25 billion this year.

Oil prices on Tuesday rose towards A$66 a barrel on worries about continuing supply disruptions, while the cost of jet fuel traded in Singapore has jumped more than 40 percent this calendar year.

"The volatility of current and future oil and jet fuel prices is a serious issue for all airlines," Qantas Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

"Hedging and surcharges will continue to partially offset this significant cost. However we still face a A$650 million shortfall at current prices."

Qantas increased its fuel surcharge by A$6 to A$26 on domestic tickets and by A$15 to A$75 on international tickets, following other airlines like British Airways Plc and Virgin Atlantic Airways who have also raised fuel surcharges.

Last week Qantas, which competes in the domestic market against budget carrier Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. , said its year net profit climbed to A$763.6 million ($579 million) from A$648.4 million for the previous year.

Qantas shares ended Tuesday's trade down 1.2 percent at A$3.35, in a broader market down 0.32 percent.

($1=A$1.32)
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Old August 24th, 2005, 01:21 AM   #298
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Qantas expands cut-price strategy
Scott Rochfort
24 August 2005
The Sydney Morning Herald

Qantas has embarked on a long-term plan to split the national carrier in two in a bid to slash costs, and has announced plans to add a fifth fuel surcharge in a year to counter its rising fuel bill.

By next year Qantas's low-cost offshoot, Jetstar, plans to fly to Asia, and possibly Europe and North America.

The move comes just days after Qantas said Jetstar would some day be "just as important as the main line" airline.

It is thought Jetstar will fly to areas deemed barely profitable by Qantas and which are dominated by economy class passengers, such as Bali, Honolulu and even Rome, a route Qantas abandoned in 2003.

Qantas will instead stick to the main routes frequented by business class traffic, such as Sydney to London and Los Angeles.

Jetstar's ascendancy is seen as a key plank in Qantas's plans to cut $3 billion in costs by 2008. Jetstar's international expansion could replicate Qantas's moves domestically, where Jetstar has replaced Qantas's services to leisure destinations such as the Gold Coast and Hamilton Island.

Qantas's chief financial officer, Peter Gregg, said Jetstar was likely to fly to the smaller destinations in countries which Qantas already served.

Mr Gregg declined to say which long-haul aircraft Jetstar would use but said it could take 12 months to get regulatory approval. He did not rule out using Qantas's fleet of four A300-200s.

Qantas had to ditch its plans to fly the A330-200s into Asia two years ago. This was because the floor on the jets were too thin to install business class SkyBeds.

Mr Gregg denied gossip in aviation circles that Qantas had made a huge error in ordering the planes. He said Qantas had planned to use them without SkyBeds domestically, but had changed its mind after Ansett collapsed in September 2001.

He added: "There's no problem putting the SkyBed on." However, this would cost $20 million in strengthening the floors and "writing-off" the interiors.

There is speculation Qantas has been keen to offload the aircraft onto its low-cost operations given the huge cost of upgrading the planes.

Qantas "reluctantly" announced its fifth fuel surcharge since May last year. It also warned further job cuts would be needed to counter the rising cost of oil, which is now about $US65 a barrel.

Qantas said that from September 2 domestic one-way fuel surcharges would rise from $20 to $26, the international surcharge from $60 to $75 and the trans-Tasman surcharge from $40 to $46.

Despite the airline having 90 per cent of its fuel bill hedged around $US49 a barrel until December 31, it warned its fuel bill would rise by $1.25 billion this financial year. The airline has left Jetstar's one-way charge at $19, prompting speculation that its low-cost rival Virgin Blue may hold off raising its $19 levy.

Qantas is expected to waste no time slashing the further $1.5 billion in costs it announced last Thursday, on top of its current $1.5 billion three-year cost-cutting program.

After announcing plans to replace 96 customer service jobs with e-Ticket machines on Monday, Qantas's chief executive, Geoff Dixon, said: "As far as we're concerned were going to keep on making changes."

He denied speculation Qantas would wait for the Government to conclude its review of airline policy. The review could result in the lifting of the 49 per cent foreign ownership restriction on the airline. "I can assure you we have no plans to wait to cut jobs [until] after [we] talk to the Government," he said.
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Old August 25th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #299
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Macquarie Airports Eyes European Expansion
24 August 2005

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Seeking to cash in on growth in international air traffic, Australian airport owner Macquarie Airports Ltd. (MAP.AU) is eying a number of opportunities to expand its portfolio in Europe, including increasing its stake in Denmark's Copenhagen Airports A/S (KBHL.KO).

"MAP is now well placed to selectively pursue other acquisition opportunities to leverage both our operational and capital management expertise," Chief Executive Kerrie Mather said Wednesday, noting there was a steady pipeline of acquisition opportunities as governments move to privatize air facilities.

She said Maquarie Airports, backed by fast growing Australian investment bank Macquarie Bank Ltd. (MBL.AU), will watch Copenhagen Airports' share price closely for "attractive" entry opportunities to increase its current 13.9% holding in the Danish airport operator.

The Sydney-based company, which also holds stakes in the Sydney, Rome, Bristol, Birmingham and Brussels airports, is one of 10 bidders in the running for the Hungarian government's 75% stake in Budapest Airport.

Other bidders include the U.K.'s BAA Ltd. (BAA.LN), Germany's Fraport AG (FRA.XE) and Spain's Grupo Ferrovial SA (FER.MC).

Given Budapest is the first to be privatized in the fast growing Eastern Europe market, Mather expects interest for the stake to be intense. The group also plans to buy a stake in Exceter International Airport in the U.K.

But she stressed any future acquisition would have to meet Macquarie Airport's strict investment objectives and add value to the group's portfolio.

"There appears to be quite a few opportunities on the horizon in terms of privatizations," said one analyst, who did not want to be named, pointing to speculation that several European governments are looking to release their grip on large airports.

He noted there are suggestions France may look at privatizing a number of regional airports, while Amsterdam's Schiphol airport is also rumored to be on the block.

Macquarie Airports Wednesday reported first half net profit fell to A$157.3 million from A$345.2 million the year before.

But earnings before finance costs associated with the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards, the measure considered more important by investors, jumped 64% to A$566.2 million on the back of a surge in passenger numbers though its airports and initiatives to boost revenues.

Revenues grew 55% to A$831.2 million from A$535.6 million.

Mather forecast continued earnings growth at all its airports in the second half and the company upgraded guidance for shareholder returns for the full year by 5.3% to 20 cents a stapled security and said it expects to pay out 23 cents next year.

Investors welcomed the result, sending Macquarie Airports shares up 6 cents or 1.8% to A$3.35 at 0520 GMT against a broader market down 0.7%.

"Earnings were ahead of forecasts and the outlook for growth in the second half, and indeed the following year, remains positive," the analyst said.
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Old August 25th, 2005, 08:22 PM   #300
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Melbourne Airport flying high ahead of Games revamp
BY ROD MYER, INFRASTRUCTURE REPORTER
24 August 2005
The Age

MELBOURNE Airport's ability to attract rising numbers of overseas passengers has helped produce a 78 per cent profit jump.

Australia Pacific Airports Corporation, Melbourne's owner, reported a net profit of $73 million for the June year, compared with $41 million the year before as passenger numbers breached the 20 million mark for the first time. Passenger growth was so strong it bettered APAC's best-case estimate of 19 million.

A $4 million fall in depreciation charges and a $10 million decline in the interest bill also helped the airport's performance. Earnings before tax and interest were 13 per cent higher at $230 million.

Growth in international traffic was the standout performance area, with numbers up 600,000, or 14.4 per cent, to 4.3 million.

An APAC spokeswoman said much of that traffic growth resulted from more direct flights into Melbourne by carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Thai Airways.

Domestic traffic was also healthy, climbing 7 per cent to 16.3 million passengers for the year.

Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Barlow said the main competitor for Melbourne in international passenger growth was Brisbane, not Sydney, because the Queensland Government was heavily supporting the tourist and airline industries.

Avalon Airport, which handles about 20 per cent of Jetstar's Victorian services, was providing some competition for Melbourne, Mr Barlow said.

But Avalon would handle fewer than 500,000 passengers this year, and Melbourne would "continue to handle the lion's share of Jetstar's traffic", Mr Barlow said.

As a result of continuing growth and the introduction of the giant Airbus A380, Melbourne Airport will extend the current $220 million two-year capital spending program for a further three years. In total, the airport will now spend more than $500 million by 2009.

Last year the airport spent $106 million on capital works, more than twice the amount spent in any previous year.

The new capital works will include larger runways, terminal and aerogate expansions, improved automated security facilities, improved baggage handling systems and parking facilities.

Restaurant and cafe facilities will also be expanded to service the larger terminals.

The capital works program will add 5000 square metres to the international terminal and will add a third level with two passenger lounges.

The expansion of the terminal will be completed in time for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in March.

Retail is an increasingly important source of revenue for the airport. Last year retail revenue jumped 16 per cent to $123 million, while aeronautical revenue climbed 13 per cent to $126 million.

The airport's income from property grew 10 per cent to $44 million.

This year a further 43,000 sq m of business park buildings are scheduled for development.

Mr Barlow attacked calls for re-regulation of airline charges, saying it would put regulators between airlines and airports and slow down considerably the provision of new infrastructure.

KEY POINTS Rising passenger numbers have helped Melbourne Airport to a 78 per cent jump in profit.

Investment in new capital will increase to $500 million over the next five years.
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