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Old October 27th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #321
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Australia could bring nationals home if bird flu pandemic strikes

SYDNEY, Oct 27 (AFP) - Australia is considering repatriating its nationals using Qantas jets if a global bird flu pandemic strikes, Health Minister Tony Abbott has told a conference in Canada.

Outlining Canberra's avian flu emergency strategy at an international meeting of health officials in Ottawa, Abbott said that the government was in talks with the national flag carrier about commissioning planes to transport Australians home.

"The government is liaising with Qantas about possible arrangements for repatriating Australians who wish to return home in the event of a pandemic," Abbott told the conference, according to a transcript made available Thursday.

An estimated one million Australians live outside the country, with three-quarters of them living off-shore on a permanent or long-term basis.

"But this could be extremely complicated, given possible disruption to flights," Abbott said.

"Issues the government would have to consider are whether to close borders and the adequacy and possible enforcement of home or hotel quarantine for people with exposure to disease."

Canberra's strategy would also involve all pilots flying into Australia declaring whether any of their passengers had bird-flu like symptoms, he said.

Qantas, which has previously repatriated Australians caught up in militant bombings in Bali, said it was monitoring the bird flu situation.

"Qantas is in regular discussion with relevant government and health authorities on this issue," executive general manager John Borghetti said.

Amid rising fears that the deadly avian flu could mutate into a human form of the disease, local governments were considering various options to contain the disease should a pandemic strike, the minister said.

These include quarantining people in their homes, banning interstate travel, closing schools and cancelling public gatherings to stop the spread of the disease, Abbott said.

"Cancellation of interstate travel, border closures between different parts of the country, cancellation of large public gatherings," were under consideration, Abbott told commercial television.

Abbott said while Australia had the world's largest stockpile of anti-viral drugs on a per capita basis, the current supply would only be enough to treat one million essential service workers for about six weeks, not the six months the pandemic would be expected to last.

"In the absence of an effective candidate vaccine or much larger stockpiles of long-acting anti-virals, large numbers of essential service workers are likely to be unprotected for much of the pandemic along with the general public," he said.

The bird flu virus has not been detected in Australia, although three pigeons imported from Canada last week tested positive to bird flu antibodies.

The government has since tightened import arrangements to ensure all live birds and hatching eggs imported here are tested for avian influenza antibodies and virus before coming to the country.

Australia will next week host a two-day regional summit on Asia's preparedness to deal with a bird flu pandemic.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 02:08 PM   #322
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Qantas offshoot suspends flights to Bali as bombings hit demand

SYDNEY, Oct 28 (AFP) - Qantas said Friday its Asian budget offshoot Australian Airlines will suspend most of its services to Bali as tourists were cancelling their travel plans after terrorist bombings earlier this month.

The number of Australian Airlines flights from Australia to the Indonesian resort island will be slashed from seven to three.

"We have taken this decision in line with the decrease in demand for Bali following the bombings on October 1," Australian Airlines chief executive Andrea Staines said in a statement.

"However, we are confident Australians will return to Bali in increased numbers as they have done in the past. We will continue to monitor demand and will increase capacity accordingly."

Australian Airlines will suspend its twice-weekly services from Perth and Melbourne from November 10 until January 29.

Sydney's three flights a week will be maintained alongside the twice-weekly return Qantas service between Darwin and Denpasar.

The bombings killed 23 people and occurred almost three years to the day after attacks in Bali's Kuta nightstrip which killed 202 people.
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Old October 30th, 2005, 02:18 PM   #323
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New Airline Links Samoa With New Zealand, Australia
30 October 2005

MELBOURNE (AP)--A new airline jointly owned by an Australian discount carrier and the Samoan government made its inaugural flight Sunday from New Zealand to Samoa.

The airline, Polynesian Blue, which is 49% owned by Australian airline Virgin Blue (VBA.AU), will fly four round trips a week between Auckland and Apia, and three between Sydney and Apia.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the new airline would boost tourism to his South Pacific island nation.

"The government of Samoa relishes the economic opportunities which tourism brings to the region, however it also is respectful of its cultural and physical environment and believes the two can live in harmony," he said in a statement.

Samoa formed a partnership in December with Virgin Blue, launched in Australia in 2000 by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group (VGN.YY) of the U.K., which retains a minority stake. The cost of running Samoa's national carrier, Polynesian Airlines, had grown to more than half of the government's annual budget.

Virgin Blue and the Samoan government hold equal shares, with the remaining 2% owned by an independent Samoan shareholder.
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Old October 30th, 2005, 02:21 PM   #324
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I don't have much news, only something concerning my home Ccity and Jetstar.
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Old November 2nd, 2005, 01:53 AM   #325
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Qantas in Emirates' flight path
STEPHEN DABKOWSKI and ROD MYER
2 November 2005
The Age

DUBAI-based airline Emirates has asked the Federal Government for the right to double flights in and out of Australia from 42 to 84 as part of a plan to continue the airline's aggressive growth.

That number of flights would mean the airline would have to run three flights a day out of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. If the Federal Government and international airline regulators approve the plan, Qantas' lucrative position on the Australia-Britain route would come under severe pressure.

Emirates president Tim Clark, in Australia for the Melbourne Cup, said the airline had asked for permission to expand its Australian operations.

"Australia is a very strong market for us," he said. "In fact, in terms of income generation Australia is now No. 3 in the world for Emirates, which is quite amazing given that many other foreign carriers have backed away from the market."

Emirates' request for further access to the Australian market comes at a sensitive time. The Government is expected soon to release its review of international airline regulation, which could result in protection for Australian airlines being wound back.

Mr Clark said he believed the review was likely to result in greater competition as more foreign airlines would be given landing rights in Australia.

He said Emirates' attempt to boost its Australian access did not mean the airline would try to muscle in on the Australia-to-Los Angeles route, believed to be Qantas' single most important revenue earner, providing 18 per cent of its profit. Singapore Airlines is trying to lever that route open.

"The trans-Pacific route doesn't suit our strategy just yet," Mr Clark said. "Contrary to reports, we have not asked for access to that route."

He said the jump in crude oil prices would add between $US350 million ($A470 million) and $US400 million to Emirates' costs this year, but despite that impost, the company's half-year results, to be released in mid-November, would be an improvement on the the $US350 million profit for the corresponding period.

He said increased profit growth had been achieved by cutting costs in other areas of the airline as well as revenue growth exceeding expectations.

Emirates' profits are a sore point in the airline industry, with Qantas and several analysts saying the company is subsidised by its parents, the Government of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai's royal family. BBY airline analyst John Veldhuizen said Emirates was "considered to be subsidised" and its aggressive growth plans could harm Qantas. However, "Qantas has dealt with Emirates' competition very well in the past", he said.

A Qantas spokesman said the airline would not comment on competitors' plans.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Warren Truss said the Government had not made a decision on Emirates' request.

Emirates already offers services to more than 20 European destinations compared with Qantas' two.

Emirates' move into the market from the mid-1990s had helped create demand for airline seats between Australia and Europe by increasing competition, Mr Veldhuizen said.

Emirates pays no company tax, but a company spokesman said it paid commercial rates for fuel. Recent high fuel prices had changed its cost structure.

"We have realised that the increased oil prices are not just a spike but a different paradigm in the way the oil market operates," he said. "We have had to adjust the way we do business . . . But it has not affected our strong growth plans. We will still take delivery of a new aircraft every month for the next eight years to support our expansion plans."

Mr Clark expects the new Airbus super-jumbo A380 jets to begin flying to Australia from May 2007. The six-month delay in Airbus aircraft delivery was a "nuisance", he said, adding: "I'd rather they got the plane right in the first place."

Rod Myer has Qantas shares.
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Old November 2nd, 2005, 01:36 PM   #326
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QANTAS to Boost Capacity on La-Sydney Route for Peak Period

SYDNEY, Nov 2 Asia Pulse - Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN) is to offer 2,000 more seats on its popular Los Angeles and Sydney route each week during the peak holiday period.

"To keep up with peak holiday demand for international travel to Australia and beyond during the popular winter travel season, Qantas Airways today announced it would add an additional round-trip flight between Los Angeles and Sydney each Tuesday for six weeks during December 2005 and January 2006," the company said in a statement.

"The enhanced schedule will provide more than 2,000 additional seats to Australia throughout the busiest season of the year.

"The additional flights operate every Tuesday from December 20, 2005 to January 24, 2006."
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Old November 4th, 2005, 03:27 AM   #327
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Emirates has unfair edge, says Qantas
ROD MYER
4 November 2005
The Age

QANTAS has hit back at an Emirates request to authorities for permission to double its flight numbers to and from Australia, claiming the fast-growing Middle-Eastern airline does not operate on commercial terms.

Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson said there could be no level playing field in the international airline industry when commercial operators such as hers had to compete with state-subsidised airlines. "To suggest that Emirates is competing on similar terms . . . is, quite frankly, fiction," Ms Jackson said.

Emirates in little more than a decade has become a major force on the so-called Kangaroo route between Australia and Europe, using its home base of Dubai to gain access to more than 20 European ports.

Qantas has 28 services a week between Australia and Europe, with all but two arriving at Heathrow.

Emirates has 120 weekly services to Europe from Dubai as well as feeding a large number of flights into Dubai from Australia and Asia.

Worldwide, Emirates flies to 70 ports, with a heavy focus on Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as Europe and Britain.

Its Australian chief Eddy Lim said Ms Jackson's observations on its operations were "old news - they say those things all the time".

Ms Jackson said Emirates' status as a company fully owned by the Dubai Government gave it advantages in its cost of capital that no publicly listed airline such as Qantas could match. Government ownership meant Emirates had a sovereign-risk rating (delivering low interest rates) that allowed the airline to carry debt levels far higher than commercially run airlines such as Qantas could manage.

Emirates paid no company tax and chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, was a member of Dubai's ruling family and head of his country's Department of Civil Aviation, Ms Jackson said.

"Life must be wonderfully simple when the airline, government and airport interests are all controlled and run by the same people," Ms Jackson said. While Emirates was undoubtedly a quality airline, "its remarkable growth reflects the aggressive and co-ordinated strategies of its owners . . . to build a world-class hub to grow tourism and business", she said.

Mr Lim said there was nothing unfair about Emirates' ownership arrangements.

"All I will say is that two of the world's most successful airlines, Emirates and Singapore, are government owned and are run on commercial lines.

"That says it all," he said.

One analyst said Emirates was a worry for Qantas because of its heavy focus on the Kangaroo route, Qantas' second-most important international route.

Not only was Emirates pressuring Qantas' overall operations on the route, it targeted the high-margin business market that provided the gravy on the long-haul run to Europe.

Qantas is believed to see itself as one of the few international airlines operating on a fully commercial basis.

Many of the European and Asian carriers are government owned and supported, while all but one of the major United States airlines are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning they don't have to pay the full cost of their debt.

The reporter owns Qantas shares.
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Old November 5th, 2005, 06:09 AM   #328
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Qantas Statement on Emirates
Press Release
Sydney, 03 November 2005

The Chairman of Qantas, Ms Margaret Jackson, said comments made on Tuesday by Emirates President Mr Tim Clark in relation to the terms on which airlines competed ran counter to the facts about the aviation industry.

"To suggest that Emirates is competing on similar terms as commercially-run airlines like Qantas is, quite frankly, fiction," Ms Jackson said.

Ms Jackson said that Emirates was 100 per cent owned by the Government of Dubai and that government ownership provided a sovereign risk rating that allowed the airline to carry debt levels far higher than could be sustained by publicly listed carriers such as Qantas.

Emirates paid no corporate tax in Dubai and its Chairman, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, was a member of the ruling family and Head of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, which also ran Dubai Airport.

"As Qantas has observed before, life must be wonderfully simple when the airline, government and airport interests are all controlled and run by the same people," Ms Jackson said.

"No one doubts that Emirates is a first class airline.

"At the same time, no one can be in any doubt that Emirates' remarkable growth reflects the aggressive and coordinated strategies of its owners, the Government of Dubai, to build a world class hub to grow tourism and business.

"This is a fact that all commercially-run airlines accept. It is time that Emirates acknowledges that it enjoys significant advantages that help set it apart from the field."

Ms Jackson said that the profits and ability to invest of Qantas and other private airlines would be significantly enhanced if they enjoyed the government-sponsored benefits of Emirates.

"As well as these structural advantages, Emirates is also benefiting in many international markets where the Australian Government has been unable to gain effective access or increased opportunities for Qantas to compete," she said.

"For example, most Australians probably do not realise that Qantas can only operate 28 passenger services per week between Australia and the UK. However, Emirates currently operates over 90 services per week between Dubai and the UK, giving it far greater opportunity to link the Australian and UK markets over its Dubai hub. Viewed in this light, Emirates' request to secure rights for 84 services per week between Australia and Dubai - double the number currently operated - is not only extravagant, but flies in the face of fair competition."
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Old November 6th, 2005, 04:26 PM   #329
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New airline ready for take-off
7 November 2005
The Courier-Mail

AUSTRALIA'S latest airline, OzJet, could be in business soon after successful test flights last Friday.

The airline is expected to get its air operator's certificate this week, clearing the way for passenger services.

OzJet chief executive Hans van Pelt said yesterday the test flights between Melbourne and Sydney had gone well.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said a final decision would be made today.

OzJet will cater for business passengers using Boeing 737 jets fitted out with only 60 seats.

Initially it will only fly between Melbourne and Sydney and will later extend services between Melbourne and other capitals.

A return fare between Melbourne and Sydney will cost about $650.
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Old November 6th, 2005, 04:27 PM   #330
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Emirates in for long haul at low cost
7 November 2005
The Australian

EMIRATES is seeking more Australian routes and could one day offer rivals greater competition in the form of low-cost flights.

Emirates president Tim Clark said yesterday he believed there was a market for a low-cost carrier on long-haul flights -- and Emirates had considered the notion.

"Introduce the low-cost, long-haul carrier, operating something like an A380 with 800 seats in it, and you can start flying very long distances for very low unit costs, and you pass those low unit costs through to the fares," Mr Clark told the Nine Network's Business Sunday program yesterday.

However, Emirates was too busy to launch such a service right now and still saw itself as a full-service carrier, he said.

"(But) I wouldn't rule it out, no, I'm actually quite attracted to it myself, I think we would do a very good job."

The highly profitable Dubai government-owned carrier has asked the federal Government for the right to double flights in and out of Australia from 42 to 84, a move that has prompted an angry response from Qantas.

Qantas chair Margaret Jackson said last week it would be unfair of the federal Government to grant Emirates the right to double the number of its flights.

This was because it already had 90 services per week between Dubai and Britain, giving it far greater opportunity to link the Australian and British markets over its Dubai hub, she said.

Ms Jackson also reiterated Qantas's concerns that Emirates' structure gave it a competitive edge over the privatised flying kangaroo.

She said this was because it paid no corporate tax in Dubai and its chairman, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, was a member of the ruling family and head of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, which also ran Dubai Airport.

Mr Clark said yesterday that Emirates might be government-owned but "they are at arms length to what we do".

He also said the airline would probably not want a stake in Qantas if the cap on foreign investment was removed.

"If you look at our track record we tend to stay away from alliances, we stay away from mergers and acquisitions, with the exception of Sri Lankan which we bought 44 per cent of, we manage and control," Mr Clark said.
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Old November 7th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #331
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Jetstar seeks stamp of approval
Tansy Harcourt
8 November 2005
Australian Financial Review

Qantas is working on a deal to sell airfares for its discount airline Jetstar through Australia Post, a move that could add millions to its revenue but heighten the competitive pressure on travel agents.

The arrangement would benefit passengers from rural areas who have difficulty accessing discount online bookings through poor or non-existent internet connections.

Qantas is looking to expand its distribution network for Jetstar as it extends the low-cost carrier's footprint further across Australia and into international markets.

Jetstar is central to Qantas's scheduled $1.5 billion cost-saving program that runs to the end of this financial year and the additional $1.5 billion it plans to slice in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Operating Jetstar on its non-business routes saves Qantas money because its cost per seat is lower than the parent carrier, giving the airline more room to discount tickets and attract price-sensitive leisure travellers.

Before Jetstar and Australia Post can implement their proposed deal, they will have to convince state governments of the need to change legislation.

The planned alliance requires an exemption for Australia Post from the Travel Compensation Fund, to which all agents are forced to contribute as a way of covering passengers in the event an agent goes bankrupt.

Jetstar is proposing to sell airfares through all 4400-plus post office locations, significantly boosting its chances of winning business from people who do not have credit cards or internet access.

Australia Post is already a major provider of banking and payment services, notching up about 200 million financial transactions a year.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents is considering trying to block the move, on the grounds than an exemption may not be consistent with national competition policy.

Travel agents' profits have come under pressure in the past 12 months, amid the increasing popularity of low-cost carriers that don't pay commissions.

Neither Jetstar nor Virgin Blue pay a straight commission for booking airfares, instead offering incentives for agents that reach certain sales targets.

The nation's largest travel agency, Flight Centre, was recently forced to issue a profit warning that sent its shares to a six-year low. Flight Centre executive chairman Graham Turner said the company was falling short of its target for profit growth of about 15 per cent after first-quarter pretax profit fell 21 per cent to $23 million.

AFTA said it was worried that if Australia Post were allowed to sell Jetstar airfares without having to be licensed or pay into the Travel Compensation Fund, the exemption could eventually be expanded to include the likes of department stores and service stations.

"Whilst at this time the application is limited to domestic Jetstar ticket sales, who is to say that any future application will not be extended to international ticket sales, given Jetstar's announced intention to commence international operations?" AFTA chief executive Mike Hatton said in a letter to agents.
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Old November 14th, 2005, 01:33 AM   #332
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Big promises as behemoth of the skies spreads its wings
Scott Rochfort
14 November 2005
The Sydney Morning Herald

The world's biggest passenger jet made its first appearance in Sydney yesterday, with big promises from Qantas that the Airbus A380 will revolutionise long-haul air travel when it enters commercial service next year.

Plane-spotters punched the air, baggage handlers took smoko breaks and traffic along Qantas Drive slowed to a crawl as the double-decker test aircraft touched down after doing several passes over the Harbour Bridge with a photo-taking Learjet in tow.

"The aircraft will do for aviation what the 747 did for aviation 35 years ago," said Qantas's executive general manager, John Borghetti.

Big enough to carry 853 passengers, the aircraft has 50 per cent more floor space than a Boeing 747-400. Qantas plans to have "just under" 500 seats in its 12 A380s.

Airbus has been keen to point out that the aircraft is half as noisy as a 747. The French-based aircraft maker says the A380's size and fuel efficiency will also mean it will be up to 20 per cent cheaper to operate per seat than a 747.

However, Qantas was vague on whether the lower cost of running the aircraft would result in cheaper tickets.

"The economy-class passenger fares, for that matter the business class or first class, will still have very competitive fares, as we do today," Mr Borghetti said.

Qantas promises the A380 will be more comfortable for passengers in all classes, with lounge areas being fitted.

While Mr Borghetti said the economy seats would be "more comfortable", he declined to say if this meant more leg room.

Singapore Airlines will start A380 flights between Sydney and London by late next year. Qantas will have the aircraft on the Sydney-Los Angeles route in mid-2007. Given the appeal of using the A380 on long-haul routes, Sydney is expected to be a magnet for the aircraft. Emirates, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are all expected to fly A380s into Sydney.

It is also being suggested that the aircraft could one day be used by low-cost airlines.

Emirates has already hinted it may use some of its 45 A380s for its yet-to-be-launched low-cost carrier Emirates Express.

Asked if he could one day picture Jetstar adding A380s to its fleet, Mr Borghetti said: "In this business you can never predict."

The visit is in part intended to appease Qantas over a six-month delay in the planned delivery of its first A380. It will make an appearance at Qantas's 85th birthday bash in Brisbane tomorrow night.

John Leahy, head of sales at Airbus, declined to say how much compensation it would have to pay Qantas for the delay.
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Old November 14th, 2005, 07:34 PM   #333
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Boeing in talks for non-stop flights on Kangaroo route
By David Millward
Transport Correspondent in Hong Kong
14 November 2005
The Daily Telegraph

NEGOTIATIONS to set up non-stop business class flights from London to Sydney have begun between US plane maker Boeing and a major airline.

The American aircraft manufacturers declined to disclose the identity of the carrier interested in using its 777-200 LR Worldliner aircraft, although industry speculation suggested the most likely company was Qantas.

The plane, which has just broken the record for the longest flight by a commercial airliner in history, can link almost any two cities in the world.

But with a full complement of 301 passengers, the Worldliner's 10,817-mile range would not enable it to make the journey from London to Sydney without stopping, because of the need to allow a safety margin in case of a diversion. Even if it could just about make the southbound trip, the return journey back, against the wind, would be impossible.

However, if more than 100 seats were stripped out, such a trip would be possible, taking about 19 hours to Australia and about 21 hours to London. It would also require the addition of three more fuel tanks, bringing the total to six.

Boeing is engaged in fierce competition with its European rival Airbus over the market for very long-range jets. Both companies believe there is growing demand for direct flights halfway round the world, cutting out the need to stop and refuel.

Competition on the "Kangaroo route'', which has 30 airlines vying for passengers, is also particularly savage between airlines. A non-stop flight would not only be attractive to passengers who can afford to pay a premium fare, but would spare an airline at least one set of landing fees.

There has been one non-stop flight between London and Sydney, in 1989 when Qantas took delivery of a Boeing 747-400, but there were no passengers on board. Qantas has made little secret of its desire to start a non-stop London to Sydney route, but there is still some debate how this could be achieved.

Airbus is also understood to be pitching for the business, offering Qantas a long-range version of the A340-500 - but this would probably only be able to carry around 120 passengers. Asked about the willingness of passengers to face an uninterrupted ultra-long-haul flight, Lars Andersen, who headed Boeing's Worldliner project, said many would be swayed by the possibility of saving several hours on a journey from London to Sydney.
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Old November 14th, 2005, 07:35 PM   #334
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Australia's Qantas group traffic up 7.4 percent

SYDNEY, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd. said September group passenger traffic rose by 7.4 percent, but growth for its full-service domestic service was only 0.5 percent higher as it battled budget airlines including its own, Jetstar.

The world's ninth-largest airline by market value said its group seat load factor, which measures how successfully it fills the seats on its aircraft, rose by 3.1 percentage points to 78.3 percent, while group capacity increased by 3.2 percent.

Jetstar passenger traffic -- or revenue passenger kilometres, an industry standard measuring seats sold and distance flown -- soared by 47 percent in September, compared to a year earlier.

Its load factor rose by 4.3 points to 79 percent.

But its full-service domestic carrier, competing against Jetstar and rival Australian budget airline Virgin Blue , had a 0.2 point dip in load factor to 81.2 percent. The number of passengers it carried fell by 2.9 percent to 1.368 million.

Jetstar carried 458,000 passengers, up 37 percent.

Qantas said passenger traffic on its main international service rose by 7.4 percent and capacity edged only 0.2 percent higher, resulting in the load factor up 5.2 points to 78 percent.

Shares in Qantas, which has plans to slash A$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) in annual costs over 2007-2008, were 1 percent higher at A$3.70 by 1:48 p.m. (0248 GMT). The stock has jumped by 35 percent in the past three weeks on lower oil prices. ($1=A$1.37)
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Old November 15th, 2005, 08:44 PM   #335
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Virgin's new loyalty plan to cost up to $12m a year
Guy Mosel in Sydney
16 November 2005
The Courier-Mail

VIRGIN Blue's new Velocity loyalty program will cost the carrier up to $12 million a year, more than it cost to launch the airline in 2000.

Chief executive Brett Godfrey said ongoing expenditure on the program, which cost less than $1 million to set up, would be "variable-driven".

"If we get a million members we'd be happy with that, but if we get more it will cost us more," Mr Godfrey said.

"Ongoing we'd expect it to cost between $10 million and $12 million a year to run.

"People said it was going to cost us $60 million, and that's how much some of the old programs might have cost."

He said the company spent $9.8 million on its launch five years ago.

"Our view is that . . . we're going to keep our program to the cost of petty cash, and I think in an organisation that generates $1.6 billion a year in revenue I think that's what it will end up being."

Mr Godfrey said Virgin Blue wanted to avoid the mistakes of Ansett, whose reward members lost their entitlements when the airline went bankrupt in 2002.

He said Virgin Blue and its Velocity partners had set up a trust structure whereby all program income would be managed by an independent company and only recognised and paid upon redemption of reward points.

"Unlike some airlines . . . we will not recognise a penny of this program until the person actually flies on us," Mr Godfrey said.

"All the money generated through all the partners will go into a separately managed company in a trust structure.

"It will be audited to ensure that there is sufficient liquidity in the program to ensure that the liability of the reward flights can be met. And if we need to top it up, we'll top it up."

Mr Godfrey said oil prices remained an ongoing concern and that a fuel levy on tickets was likely to remain in place if oil did not fall back to $US30 a barrel.

Virgin Blue is due to report an annual net profit of $105 million today.

Yesterday, analysts from ABN Amro lifted Virgin Blue to buy from hold, valuing the stock at $1.63. Virgin Blue shares firmed 7 to $1.67 yesterday.
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Old November 20th, 2005, 05:28 PM   #336
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Can Australia sustain five carriers
Crowded skies fuel airline uncertainty

ANTHONY MARX, JAMES McCULLOUGH
21 November 2005
The Advertiser

AS QANTAS celebrated its 85th birthday last week, price wars and high fuel prices continued to stoke fears that Australian skies are getting too crowded.

Virgin Blue launched its long-awaited frequent flyer program last week in tandem with confirmation of a 33 per cent fall in full-year profit and plans to raise fares.

This month low-cost business-class airline OzJet announced it would start flying from Sydney to Melbourne on November 29, and plans other capital city routes next year.

Also this month, the nation's biggest regional airline, Rex, raised $35 million to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

That puts four airlines - five if you count Qantas subsidiary Jetstar separately - vying for Australians' travel dollars.

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon has warned that more carriers increases competition and makes consolidation inevitable. As Qantas - which posted a record $763 million profit last year - battles for international market share, domestic players are upping the ante.

Virgin Blue, which hopes its "Velocity" frequent flyer scheme will attract corporate and government travellers, is no longer a "true cut-price airline," says Shaw Stockbroking analyst Brent Mitchell.

Virgin Blue was now wedged between the bare-bones approach of Jetstar and the full-service Qantas, he said.

It has been hit hard by surging fuel costs, posting a $105 million annual profit to September 30 - a 33 per cent fall from the previous year.

Fuel concerns did not dissuade former Minardi Formula One racing team boss Paul Stoddart from starting OzJet.

OzJet's aim is to attract 1.8 per cent of the domestic market once it has a fleet of 10 aircraft. It starts eight daily flights next week, with three Boeing 737s serving business commuters between Sydney and Melbourne. Aviation analysts mostly doubt OzJet will be a serious contender, believing it will struggle to profit as potential passengers will be put off by the limited number of flights.

Meanwhile, Qantas has a multibillion-dollar budget for new aircraft and is planning future maintenance divisions and oil price hedging, mindful of "constant shock syndrome".

"In the past decade alone we have had a war, the SARS virus, 9/11, the collapse of Ansett, absolutely unprecedented fuel prices, the Asian bird flu," Mr Dixon said. "You sit there and think `wow, can we have two years and get a few things done' - and then along comes something else."

TAKEOFFS AND CRASHES
* August 1989 - Domestic airline pilots strike.
* April 1990 - Strike ends.
* December 1990 - Compass Airlines starts service.
* December 1991 - Compass ceases operation.
* August 1992 - Southern Cross Airlines starts service.
* March 1993 - Southern Cross ceases operation.
* June 2000 - Impulse Airlines starts service.
* August 2000 - Virgin Blue starts service.
* May 2001 - Impulse ceases operation.
* March 2002 - Ansett collapses.
* December 2003 - Virgin Blue floats on stock exchange.
* May 2004 - Jetstar starts.
* November 2005 - Rex floats on stock exchange, OzJet starts.
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Old November 21st, 2005, 04:44 AM   #337
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Australia's Qantas says ownership cap costs billions

CANBERRA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - A foreign ownership limit on Qantas has cost the Australian airline billions of dollars in extra capital costs, chairwoman Margaret Jackson said on Sunday in a renewed push for the government to scrap the 49 percent cap.

The Australian government is close to finishing a review of aviation policy that includes a possible easing of the cap, which restricts single foreign investors to 25 percent and foreign airlines to a 35 percent.

Total foreign ownership of Qantas Airways Ltd. -- founded in the Australian outback in 1920 -- is capped at 49 percent. Transport Minister Warren Truss has said he wants the company to remain an "Australian icon". Chairwoman Jackson said easing the cap would not endanger that status:

"You could actually guarantee that the business of Qantas is Australian but still have access to the global capital markets," Jackson told Australian television on Sunday.

"The 49 percent foreign ownership limit has actually cost us billions of dollars in extra capital costs."

She said Qantas had suggested the government could guarantee control of Qantas remained within Australia by stipulating that there be a "kangaroo share", that the chairman and the board be Australian and that the business was run from Australia.

If the foreign ownership laws are scrapped, the government's Foreign Investment Review Board will still have to examine any majority foreign ownership, giving the government the power to veto any foreign takeover.

The government's policy review, due to be finished by the end of the year, is also considering whether to grant Singapore Airlines Ltd., the world's second-biggest airline by market value, access to the Sydney to Los Angeles air route. Jackson argued against the need for further competition on the trans-Pacific route.

"The facts are that last year Qantas had 400,000 empty seats. The prices across the Pacific have never been lower. Any American airline can come on the route. If it was such a lucrative route they would all be there. They're not," Jackson said.

Qantas and bankrupt U.S. carrier United Airlines, part of UAL Corp, are the only airlines offering direct flights from Australia to the U.S. mainland. Discount carrier Virgin Blue also wants access to the United States.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 02:53 AM   #338
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Australia's Virgin Blue September traffic up 8.3%

SYDNEY, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Australian budget airline Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. said on Monday its passenger traffic rose 8.3 percent in September, above the growth in its capacity.

Virgin Blue said it carried 1.2 million passengers in September, up 10.4 percent on the same month last year. Revenue passenger kilometres, an industry standard which measures seats sold and distance flown, rose 8.3 percent, it said in a statement.

Its September passenger load factor, which measures how successfully it fills its aircraft, rose to 81.4 percent.

In the 12 months to September, its revenue passenger kilometres were up 13.3 percent, capacity rose 16.5 percent and its load factor was down 2.1 percentage points at 76.8 percent.

Shares in Virgin Blue, which earlier this month reported a 33 percent fall in annual net profit to A$105 million ($76.6 million), closed down 0.3 percent at A$1.88, in line with the broader market.

Virgin Blue is 62.4 percent-owned by Patrick Corp. , Australia's biggest ports operator which is the subject of a hostile bid from Toll Holdings Ltd. to create Australia's biggest transport company.

Under Toll's bid proposal, the combined group would sell down Patrick's stake in Virgin Blue by allowing Richard Branson's Virgin Group [VA.UL], which owns 25.6 percent of Virgin Blue, to buyer a bigger interest of up to 40.6 percent. ($1=A$1.37)
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 11:01 PM   #339
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Airport near-miss 'serious'
23 November 2005
The Australian

A PASSENGER jet taking off from Sydney airport had a near miss with another aircraft on the runway.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday classified the October 20 incident as serious.

The report said a Boeing 777-2B5ER passenger jet, scheduled to fly to South Korea, was cleared for take-off at about 8.45am when an aircraft tug towing a Boeing 747-400 freighter was crossing the runway at the same time.

The 777 took off and passed over the towed 747 at an estimated height of 120m.

The tug was towing the 747 from the international terminal to a maintenance area next to the domestic terminal.

The tug driver later reported that he heard a clearance to cross the runway, which he thought was intended for him.

Investigations into the incident are continuing.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 12:40 AM   #340
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Aussies stranded in airline collapse
24 November 2005
The Australian

UP to 1500 Australian tourists are stranded in Bali after their discount airline was grounded by the impact of last month's terror attacks.

Air Paradise International, a Balinese airline that flies between Denpasar and Australia, yesterday suspended operations, saying there had been a significant downturn in the number of tourists travelling to the Indonesian island since last month's suicide bombings, which killed 23 people, including four Australians.

It was the second time the airline's owner, Indonesian Kadek Wiranatha, had been hit by terror attacks; he owned the Paddy's Bar nightspot in Kuta, which was destroyed in the previous bombing of 2002.

Mr Wiranatha said the attacks had devastated the Balinese tourism industry. The number of foreigners visiting the island in October fell almost 37 per cent year-on-year to 81,109 people.

Corporate recovery firm Korda Mentha, the company that handled Ansett's administration after its collapse in late 2001, has been called in to assist Air Paradise.

Mark Korda said Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon had confirmed that arrangements were being made for Qantas to repatriate Air Paradise passengers from Bali and Australia.

A spokesman for the airline said up to 1500 passengers were believed to be stuck in Bali, with a smaller number of Indonesian tourists stranded in Australia.

The airline, which operated four Airbus aircraft, carried about 20,000 passengers per month from Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

The airline started operations in February 2003 to service the Bali tourist route left under-supplied by the Ansett collapse.

Its launch was originally scheduled for October 2002 but was delayed after the attack, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians.

As other airlines continued to cut services, Air Paradise quickly expanded operations, adding two more planes to operate between Bali, Australia and other key markets, Japan and South Korea.

It is widely credited with playing a crucial role in the island's recovery from the 2002 attack.

The airline's 350 employees, about 35 of which worked in Australia, were informed of the suspension yesterday.

Consul-general Brent Hall said that between 1300 and 1500 Australians were believed to be in Bali, and would be flown home by Qantas before December 10.

"We've been talking to Air Paradise and Qantas about what to do," Hall said.

"Air Paradise has been dealing directly with Qantas and spoke to (Qantas chief executive) Geoff Dixon."

He said the embassy would be sending a mail-out in Jakarta to all Australians registered as being in Indonesia as well as major hotels across the country.

"We'll also be targeting a few places where Australian surfers come up and go to remote areas," he said.
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