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Old January 2nd, 2006, 04:05 AM   #381
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Virgin alert to windscreen cracks
Steve Creedy, Aviation writer
31 December 2005
The Australian

VIRGIN Blue has increased inspections of its aircraft windscreens after at least three cracked this month in what US manufacturer Boeing acknowledges may be a global problem with one of the world's most popular jets.

The problem is understood to affect Next Generation 737s, a new version of the 737 that came into service in late 1997. More than 1500 Next Generation 737s fly worldwide for airlines including Virgin and Qantas.

The issue may also be related to a December 2 incident in which eight passengers flying from Townsville to Brisbane needed hospital treatment after suffering nosebleeds, nausea and earaches when a Virgin jet was forced into an emergency descent. The 737 descended from 34,000ft to 10,000ft after discovering a crack on the windscreen's outer surface.

Other incidents include a cracked windscreen that forced a Virgin plane to be taken out of service on Christmas Eve, contributing to lengthy delays around the nation caused by strong winds in Sydney and a power failure in Melbourne.

Air safety experts investigating the December 2 emergency descent are working to establish whether there is a common problem with the 737s' windscreens.

Virgin would not confirm the number of damaged windscreens but said it was higher than normal. It emphasised that the damage did not pose a risk to passengers and said it was working with Boeing on dealing with the issue.

"Virgin Blue has received advice from Boeing regarding greater than normal occurrences of cockpit damage being received by Boeing Next Generation operators around the world, relating to delamination in particular," Virgin spokeswoman Amanda Bolger said.

"We will, of course, accept any advice from Boeing. However, Virgin already undertakes inspections over and above those recommended by Boeing."

Boeing spokesman Ken Morton said the issue was not confined to Virgin Blue but stressed that it was not a safety issue.

"Yes, this is a well-known problem which we are addressing," Mr Morton said.

Qantas spokeswoman Belinda de Rome said the airline was not aware of any particular problem with the windscreens on its 737s.

"But we inspect windscreens and replace them where there is any defect as a normal part of our maintenance procedures," Ms deRome said.

Aircraft windscreens are made up of multiple layers of vinyl and glass and are designed so that they will not fail if one layer cracks during flight.

But an increase in the number of cracks pushes up maintenance costs, takes planes out of service and can disrupt timetables.

Ms Bolger said Virgin introduced extra inspections when it became aware of the problem during maintenance. She said the airline did inspections well before they were due and added that the carrier's pilots were being extra diligent when carrying out pre-flight inspections.

"Whilst delamination and cracks do not compromise the safety of aircraft, we manage our operations in an overly cautious way," Ms Bolger said.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said it was aware of the problem and was waiting for a response from Boeing.
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Old January 2nd, 2006, 05:46 AM   #382
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Airport plans skirt around state laws
Anne Davies
2 January 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

SYDNEY Airport has become a haven from NSW development laws. Two big projects are being planned within its boundaries to avoid potential issues with the State Government.

The Macquarie Bank-controlled Sydney Airport Corporation has already announced plans for a retail development on airport land, even though state policy is to concentrate retail activities in areas well served by public transport.

Now, documents revealed to State Parliament show that Services Sydney, the private company that wants to build a water recycling plant for Sydney, is also eyeing airport land.

According to one document, it proposes to build its plant between the two runways, near the main southern sewer line to Malabar. The recycled water would then be sent back out to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system via a pipe located within the road reserves along the M5 and the M7 motorways.

The location of the plant within the airport grounds would mean the Federal Government, not the State Government, would be the planning authority on the project. Services Sydney has not publicly said where the plant will be.

The State Government has been less than enthusiastic about the project because it does not believe there is a sufficient market for recycled water. But the Australian Competition Tribunal ruled recently that Services Sydney should have access to Sydney Water's sewerage network.

The main plant would be exempt from state planning laws if built on airport land, although the state would still regulate the quality of water it produced. A spokesman for Sydney Airport Corporation, Peter Vickery, said the water recycling plant was not part of the airport's masterplan.

However, the corporation was determined to further develop the airport, and a retail complex with cinemas, or with offices, was firmly on the agenda.

"There is going to be growth at the airport, not just from retail but from growth in the airport activity itself, due to economic growth of NSW," Mr Vickery said.

But the State Government is becoming increasingly frustrated with the airport and is expected to strongly oppose a planned 65,000-square-metre retail complex in a submission due to be lodged at the end of the month.

Several ministers are concerned that the complex would add to traffic problems and hinder plans to expand Port Botany.

"This kind of wilful, willy-nilly stuff-you attitude is over the top," said the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor. "Last time I checked the airport was not surrounded by water. It's part of NSW."

Mr Sartor said he wanted to discuss the plans and alternatives with the airport's chief executive, Max Moore-Wilton.

The Government was close to making public its blueprint for the corridor between the airport and the city, which would be an important business area, he said.

"You don't want to create a Roselands at the airport. We don't need a massive vehicle-based retail outlet there."

A business park or office space could be more suitable for the site, he said.

Mr Vickery said the airport would welcome the release of the corridor masterplan.
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Old January 2nd, 2006, 06:27 PM   #383
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Another airline, just $70m needed
Scott Rochfort
3 January 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

ONE former Ansett employee has not let soaring fuel prices, OzJet's troubled start or increased airline competition dampen his dream of launching his own domestic and ultimately international airline.

Far from it. Jens Buche now plans to get his carrier, RMA Gold Airways, off the ground this year from his home office in the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster.

Mr Buche even reckons that by 2008 he could expand Gold Airways internationally with a fleet of giant Airbus A380 superjumbos and next-generation Airbus A350s. The list price for an A380 is around $US285 million ($388 million).

"Gold Airways will fly to all capital cities in Australia and some popular regional centres and eventually overseas," Mr Buche said. On its website Gold Airways has a list of destinations on its mock-booking engine, ranging from Sydney, Melbourne, Mount Isa, Gove to the remote West Australian mining town of Paraburdoo.

Mr Buche plans to use Airbus A320s, the same aircraft used by Jetstar, for his domestic operations. The only thing Mr Buche lacks is the $70 million he reckons he will need to get Gold Airways off the ground.

Mr Buche said he had attracted a high level of interest after putting up advertisements for jobs ranging from tug drivers, pilots, cabin crew to public relations consultants during the year.

"The quality of applicants has been exceptional with many applicants from overseas but even so, we would need a lead time of about two months to satisfy our initial crewing requirements.

"We are developing a world-class pilot training program and are naturally interested in making sure the pilots we choose will stay with Gold Airways for the long run," Mr Buche said.

In a recent update to his flygold.com.au website, Mr Buche is now after project managers to head his A380 and A350 programs.

Mr Buche said he had about 60 consultants helping him on the airline. "Some of our consultants have been given opportunities to develop their aviation skills to a much greater level than they could ever have expected by doing work experience or through their first job in an airline.

"The people we have got learn all sorts of skills from checking if an equipment rack is strong enough to hold a landing gear spare part to fuel-hedging strategies. We've even worked out what we are going to do [with] an engine change at a remote airport," he said.

He said he was ready to apply for an Air Operators Certificate but would wait until he had the funding in place.

The RMA in front of the Gold Airways name stands for Reg Miles Ansett.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 06:33 AM   #384
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Gold Airways will be a flop in My opinion, if its going to service smaller regional destinations like Paraburdoo, and Mt Isa with A320's, Its going to be an even bigger flop, there was a time where you could fly twice daily from Brisbane to Mt Isa with A320's and get 80%-90% loads both flights, but that was when it was just Ansett flying to Mt Isa, but with Qantas doing Daily 737 flights to The Isa, I don't think so, possibly.

But Jens Busche will have to come up to me and slap me in the face if my Opinion turns out to be wrong.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 11:33 AM   #385
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I wouldnt take that destination list seriously. He just basically has every commercial airport and aerodrome on there. The article states that he will start with all capital cities and some ''popular'' regional centres. I wouldnt imagine that Paraburdoo or Mt Isa would be on that list.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 05:34 PM   #386
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Qantas launches non-stop flights from Sydney to Beijing

SYDNEY, Jan 9 (AFP) - Australian flag carrier Qantas launched Monday a new non-stop service between Sydney and Beijing.

Qantas would initially operate three flights a week to Beijing and expected to offer daily flights to both Beijing and Shanghai within two years, said executive general manager John Borghetti.

"China, one of the fastest growing travel markets in the world, is an increasingly important destination for Qantas," Borghetti said.

"The total travel market between Australia and China has grown by 22 percent in the past year."

Business and holiday travel was increasing in both directions and the number of Chinese students attending schools and universities in Australia was growing, he said.

Qantas currently operates four non-stop flights per week to Shanghai, with all services to China to use new two-class Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 05:36 PM   #387
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Under-occupied Ozjet offers free trips over holidays
Jamie Freed
10 January 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

FLEDGLING business-class airline OzJet has resorted to a "buy one, get one free" ticket deal to fill flights during January and February.

In a move that might appeal to upmarket leisure travellers, customers can buy a return ticket from Sydney to Melbourne for as little as $249 including taxes.

"If you can fill your aircraft at that price, versus filling half the aircraft at twice the price, that could work," said Peter Harbison, the managing director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation.

Several travel agents said that even before yesterday's discount was announced, OzJet was already appealing to leisure travellers as much as to business passengers.

"There are groups of people out there who are time-poor but looking for a better experience and have disposable income," Travel.com.au chief executive Adam Johnson said. "Certainly people seem open to it."

OzJet chief executive Hans van Pelt said the airline was setting up package deals, such as luxury shopping weekends or a trip to Melbourne to watch the tennis, to lure more customers.

"For most people it's about the closest they will come to a corporate jet," he said.

OzJet travels only between Sydney and Melbourne, but Mr van Pelt said the airline might eventually expand to key leisure destinations such as the Gold Coast at off-peak business times.

Webjet managing director David Clarke said that strategy might work for OzJet, especially with customers who owned holiday homes in Queensland.

"I think there is a component of the leisure market that wants a smaller, more personal service that's a little bit detached from the chaotic travel conditions that otherwise exist at this time of year," Mr Clarke said. "I think they are prepared to pay a small premium."

OzJet itself pays a premium to travel agents compared to other airlines.

The business carrier yesterday increased its commission rate to 10 per cent, almost certainly much higher than the individual deals each agency strikes with Virgin Blue and Qantas.

But despite the premium, some corporate travel agents have found it difficult to entice customers to OzJet. Wayne Swaysland, director of sales for Travelforce, said none of his company's customers had booked with OzJet.

"We're a corporate travel agent company, so we're dictated more by what the client wants than whether we promote the sale," he said.
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Old January 10th, 2006, 11:50 PM   #388
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AUSTRALIA PRESS: Qantas' Jetstar Considering Expansion
10 January 2006

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Qantas Airways Ltd.'s (QAN.AU) cut-price arm Jetstar is looking at expansion opportunities that will see it boost its fleet beyond the 23 Airbus (ABI.YY) A320s it will have by June, the Australian newspaper reports Wednesday.

The newspaper quotes a Jetstar spokesman as saying 2006-07 will be a year of consolidation, but Jetstar has been asked by Qantas to explore "the next tranche of growth on the Australasian market."

"We are actually exploring what options there could be for an A319 or A321, as well as the obvious options we have on additional A320s if the market demands and if the performance of existing markets hold up well," he said.

Newspaper Web site: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au
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Old January 11th, 2006, 07:15 AM   #389
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Tuesday January 10, 8:29 PM
INTERVIEW: Qantas To Seek Flights To Europe Via China
By Terence Poon

BEIJING (Dow Jones)--Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU) hopes to fly to European cities via Beijing or Shanghai in the next three to four years, a senior official at the Australian carrier said Tuesday.

While Qantas has studied which destinations and transit points it may serve, it isn't yet in talks to gain such traffic rights, Qantas Executive General Manager John Borghetti told Dow Jones Newswires.

Qantas isn't alone in seeking so-called "beyond rights," as the airline industry grapples with rising fuel costs and competition. Singapore Airlines Ltd. (S55.SG) is asking Canberra for permission to let it pick up passengers in Sydney or Melbourne, then fly to the U.S. It would like to compete on the Sydney-Los Angeles route, where Qantas makes about 15% of its net profit.

"In the next three to four years, if we're not flying through (China), I would be surprised," Borghetti said, speaking a day after the carrier reintroduced flights to Beijing from Sydney.

Borghetti said he doesn't know when the Australian government will decide on granting Singapore Airlines beyond rights through Australia. "We're in the hands of the government," he said.

For Qantas to fly to Europe through China, it has to rely on the Australian government to negotiate bilateral agreements with the governments of destination countries.

"Australia does recognize that China may well be a hub in the future, but our rights at the moment don't allow that to happen," a spokeswoman for Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said.

Australian carriers, including Qantas, can now fly via China to Germany, but not the U.K.

"China is liberalizing its aviation services policy at the moment and in the future we could be looking to improve these beyond rights," the spokeswoman said.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, the U.K. and Europe contributed A$926.1 million, or 7.3%, of Qantas' total sales and operating revenue, which amounted to A$12.65 billion.

The airline derives over half of total revenue from Australia, while the U.K. and Europe are its largest overseas market by revenue.

Even as it hopes to defend and expand its network, Qantas is also seeking to cut fuel and maintenance costs.

The Australian carrier has been considering restructuring its engineering and maintenance operations, including moving parts of those operations out of Australia to countries including China.

Qantas will make a decision in February, said Borghetti, in line with a timeline of three to four months that Qantas Chief Executive Geoff Dixon gave in October.

Maintenance and repair operations, especially those in China, have economies of scale that would allow costs at least 20% lower than at most other airlines, said Borghetti.

Qantas employs 6,900 persons for engineering and maintenance, according to a company statement in October. Over 93% of the carrier's 38,000 jobs are in Australia.

To cope with high fuel costs, Qantas, like some other carriers, has imposed a fuel surcharge and hedged its fuel purchases.

"The fuel surcharge stays as it is," said Borghetti.

Even so, fuel costs in the current fiscal year ending June are expected to be A$350 million to A$450 million more than in the prior fiscal year. Without hedging and surcharges, fuel costs would be A$900 million greater, Borghetti said.

In the last fiscal year, Qantas's fuel costs rose 42.5% year-on-year to A$1.93 billion, while the carrier's costs totaled A$11.53 billion, according to company data.

The Australian government may decide to lobby European governments for beyond rights from China once it concludes a review of its aviation policy. The result of the review, which also examines foreign ownership restrictions on Qantas shares and Singapore Airlines's proposed access to the Australia-U.S. route, is expected to be announced in coming months.
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Old January 12th, 2006, 07:07 PM   #390
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Australia's Qantas Nov Revenue Seat Factor 77.1%
11 January 2006

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU) said Thursday it filled 77.1% of seats in November, up 1.3 percentage points from the same month a year earlier.

In a statement, the airline said it carried a 2.8 million passengers for the month, up 4.2% on year, bringing the total for the group's financial year to date to 14.4 million.

The company said revenue passenger kilometers rose 3.8% and available seat kilometers were up 2.1%. [ 12-01-06 0450GMT ]

Sydney-based Qantas said it filled 76.7% of seats on its international services, a 2.2 percentage point improvement over the previous year. Its domestic revenue seat factor, or seats filled by paying customers, fell 1.0 percentage points on year to 77.9%.

Last month, Qantas committed to buying up to 115 Boeing Dreamliner 787s for the cornerstone of its domestic and international fleet overhaul, valued at as much as US$18 billion at list prices. It will fund the fleet upgrade through operating cash flow.

The company said it will continue talks with both Boeing and Airbus on developing options for longer range aircraft which will allow it to operate nonstop services between Australia and London and Australia and New York.
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Old January 14th, 2006, 04:34 AM   #391
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Cool heads prevail as airline, unions talk
Scott Rochfort
14 January 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

FEARS of widespread industrial action in Qantas's maintenance division have eased after the airline and unions agreed to sit down for another round of enterprise bargaining talks early next month.

Relations between the carrier and its maintenance workers have hit rock bottom since Qantas's chief executive, Geoff Dixon, warned in October that jobs and costs would have to be slashed if the airline was to avoid outsourcing maintenance work overseas.

Comments by the airline's executive general manager, John Borghetti, early this week about the merits of sending work to China did not help.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Australian Workers Union say the airline wants to slash the take-home pay of 2100 maintenance workers up to 20 per cent by stripping down overtime pay and shift allowances.

Qantas says it is at a huge cost disadvantage to other airlines, which outsource the upkeep of their planes to huge maintenance, repair and overhaul centres in China.

But after two days of discussions, AMWU assistant national secretary Glenn Thompson on Friday described the first round of talks as "encouraging" but said they still had a "long way to go".

"We're now getting to the pointier end of the [discussions]," he said, noting Qantas had backed away from some of its original demands.

Mr Thompson declined to specify the areas in which Qantas had softened its stance.

Qantas's head of engineering, David Cox, said: "Today's talks were productive and we made progress." He declined to comment further.

But Qantas still has some tough demands on the table. It is understood to want to hire more part-time workers in its maintenance division and be allowed to hire workers from labour hire companies.

The airline also wants to slash overtime pay by making maintenance staff work an average of 38 hours a week over six months - not the existing 38 hours over four weeks. This would mean workers could work long hours with no overtime pay in busy periods and fewer hours in quiet times.

It is understood Qantas wants to clamp down by requesting medical certificates and statutory declarations for some types of sick leave. It also wants more flexible rostering arrangements.

The resumption of enterprise bargaining talks next month will be overshadowed by Qantas's decision on whether to outsource maintenance work overseas, which is also expected to be made in February.

Some analysts estimate Qantas could save $100 million a year by sending large chunks of its heavy maintenance overseas.
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Old January 14th, 2006, 08:29 AM   #392
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Australia's Gold Coast Airport Sees Record Passengers in 2005

SYDNEY, Jan 13 Asia Pulse - A record number of passengers passed through the Gold Coast airport during the 2005 calendar year.

Australian Infrastructure Fund (AIF), which owns an effective interest of 49.1 per cent of the airport through Queensland Airports Ltd, says the airport recorded 3,506,987 passengers during the year.

This was a 22 per cent increase from the 2,885,338 passengers in 2004.

International passengers for the year rose 36 per cent to 300,726 mainly due to an increase in trans-Tasman traffic.

The responsible entity for AIF is Hastings Funds Management Ltd (Hastings).

Hastings managing director Tim Poole said Gold Coast Airport had benefited from a sustained marketing campaign to attract new airlines and greater capacity.
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Old January 15th, 2006, 06:50 PM   #393
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Qantas safe from rivals on US route
John Masanauskas
16 January 2006
The Courier-Mail

THE Federal Government looks set to protect Qantas and deny access to Singapore Airlines on the lucrative US route.

It is understood Singapore's controversial execution of Melbourne drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van has been a factor in the air rights issue.

Nguyen was hanged on December 2 despite pleas by Prime Minister John Howard to spare his life.

His execution was preceded by non-government threats to boycott Singapore and the national airline, although no boycott was formally established.

Mr Howard, a strong supporter of Qantas, is also concerned about the prospect of job losses at the airline if Singapore's national carrier is given direct flights across the Pacific.

Both airlines have been strongly lobbying the Government, with the trans-Pacific issue to be decided as part of a broader review of national aviation policy.

Qantas and US carrier United Airlines are currently the only airlines providing non-stop services on the route.

Federal Cabinet is due to consider the matter early next month, after it initially intended to make a decision before last Christmas.

Speaking in Beijing last week, Transport Minister Warren Truss hinted that Australia did not have much room to move in negotiations.

"The countries that want access to the trans-Pacific route, particularly Singapore, don't have a lot to offer us in return, as Australia already has unlimited access to Singapore," he said.

Mr Truss was aboard Qantas's inaugural flight to Beijing last Monday as part of an eight-day Asian visit to discuss transport and security issues.

On Tuesday, he strongly praised the airline at a dinner held at a top Beijing hotel to celebrate the new flights.

Qantas is boosting its flights to the US from March after criticism that the route was inadequately serviced.

Qantas recently revealed that its low-cost offshoot Jetstar would eventually fly to North America, with the prospect of cheaper fares.

Virgin Blue is also keen to fly across the Pacific, and has argued that having another Australian-based carrier on the route would be preferable to giving a foreign airline access.

Apart from the trans-Pacific route, Cabinet will consider issues such as allowing more foreign investment in Qantas and the pursuit of more air rights to Europe.

Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti said the airline was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Government's aviation review.

"What we are seeking from the Government is clarity on future direction," he said.

Singapore Airlines spokeswoman Kate Pratley said consumers would be denied choice, flexibility and better services if the US route was not opened up to more competition.

"Qantas is one of the most profitable airlines in the world, yet it continues to seek protection from the Government," she said.

Mr Borghetti rejected claims that Qantas fares were too high on the US route, saying prices generally were the lowest they had ever been.

"Sure, we make money on the Pacific, but so we should," he said.

"We've got a lot of money tied up on that route."
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Old January 16th, 2006, 06:24 AM   #394
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Australia's Qantas To Consider A380 Service Center
15 January 2006

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU) said Monday it will consider partnering a leading European company to provide aircraft component management services for its soon to be launched Airbus A380 aircraft.

Qantas has signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with SR Technics, a privately owned maintenance repair and overhaul organization, to look at providing the services to its A380 aircraft, which will enter service in the next 12 months.

The company said the joint venture business could also provide services to other A380 customer airlines, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

"This (memorandum) will allow Qantas and SR Technics to move beyond informal discussions to look at establishing a joint venture business, examine options for an operational base and begin talking formally to potential customers," David Cox, executive general manager of Qantas Engineering, said in a media release.

Other regional airlines to have placed orders for the A380 include Singapore Airlines Ltd. (S55.SG), Thai Airways International PLC (THAI.TH) and Korean Air Co. (003490.SE)
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Old January 21st, 2006, 03:04 AM   #395
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OzJet stretches itself to accommodate passengers
Dan Silkstone
21 January 2006
The Age

Insiders are already predicting the end of OzJet. But the airline, while struggling to get passengers, still means business

OzJet is about comfort, but is luxury really necessary on a one-hour flight? Dan Silkstone reports.

"VIRGIN?" asks my grizzled cabbie as we pull into Tullamarine. That's a little personal, I think but answer no. He says, "OK, Qantas then", to which I give an unfamiliar response: "Err, OzJet." It's greeted with blank confusion.

If you fly regularly, chances are you haven't even realised you do it on auto-pilot. But travelling with Melbourne's newest airline means doing things differently.

I walk straight towards the Virgin Blue check-in area, where an imposing line stretches to infinity. I join the wrong queue before I spy the single OzJet desk and remember myself. No queue. Not a soul. I check in and head for the gate lounge, walking to the very end past Qantas and Virgin gates before I realise I'm in the wrong part of the airport.

Arriving just in time, my ticket is not plunged into an electronic machine; it is quaintly ripped by hand. There's a basket of apples and a pile of newspapers. Not many people.

On board you are struck by the sense of space in the business-class layout and then by the fact that passengers are few and far between.

The ride is comfortable, plenty of stretching room on the plush leather seats. A cabin designed to house 130 has been modified to fit 60 recliners. Trouble is only 15 people have taken up the offer.

On the positive side, this means you get your breakfast a lot faster: a hot meal (sausage and a mushroom omelet) on a china plate.

The all-business-class cabin goes against the trend in global aviation towards more passengers and cheaper fares.

OzJet is keen to take on the established players on Sydney-to-Melbourne flights and other routes but challengers to Australia's airline duopoly have fared poorly before. Prices have been halved to woo customers and most of the few passengers look like holidaymakers rather than captains of industry. Will they return when the price reverts to $245 each way?

Brisbanites David and Jennifer Balso have flown from Sydney with their two young daughters after discovering the two-for-one deal. "It was good," says Ms Balso. "Not over-the-top great but not bad. The food could have been better."

Would they be tempted if it cost twice the price? "I don't think so," she says. "It's a nice enough service but you don't really need it for a flight that only lasts an hour or so."
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Old January 22nd, 2006, 07:29 PM   #396
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Qantas jobs move waits for clearer skies
James Hall
23 January 2006
Australian Financial Review

Qantas Airways is expected to delay a controversial decision to move thousands of maintenance jobs offshore until it has a clearer understanding of the federal government's plans to change aviation policy.

The airline's chief financial officer, Peter Gregg, told The Australian Financial Review expectations that Qantas would be in a position to decide on the move after it completed enterprise bargaining with workers might be unrealistic.

"To be honest, we don't expect to make a decision until the federal government's position on aviation policy is clearer," Mr Gregg said.

Negotiations to convince workers to accept measures aimed at increasing productivity under a new enterprise bargaining agreement resume next month and both Qantas and unions are optimistic they will strike a deal.

But a decision to move jobs off-shore is on hold after the Department of Transport and Regional Services said cabinet might not consider changes to the federal aviation policy until March.

Cabinet is expected to consider the introduction of an "open skies" policy on the lucrative Australia-US route, which is now open only to Australian and US airlines.

Competitors such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates have expressed an interest in flying the Australia-US route, which is among Qantas's most profitable.

Mr Gregg said Qantas could not make an informed decision on moving many of its 6900 maintenance jobs offshore - which it says could cut costs by 20 per cent - until it had an idea of the competitive environment.

"It would be unwise for us to do it until we know what the competitive framework will be," Mr Gregg said.

"It depends on how [competitors] are allowed to fly. . . We need some clarity on that so that we know what we are working with. . .

"If we are allowing people in with a lower labour cost base then it means our labour cost must also come down."

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Unions and the Australian Workers Union have said strike action over the possibility of jobs going offshore remains a possibility.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #397
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Air Canada to fly LA-Sydney
Scott Rochfort
27 January 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

SINGAPORE Airlines has been gazumped in its bid to become the next airline to enter the lucrative Australia to US route after Air Canada announced it would start services between Sydney to Los Angeles and Toronto next year.

The move could take pressure off the Federal Government to allow additional competition - namely Singapore Airlines - on the capacity-constrained route that accounts for 20 per cent of Qantas's profits.

Singapore Airlines has been lobbying to get on the route for 10 years. There has been speculation the Federal cabinet could allow the Asian airline to fly limited flights on the route when it completes an aviation policy review in March.

At this stage, it is unknown whether this could change with Air Canada entering the route. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, has vowed to push ahead with plans to enter the route.

"We have never argued that we should be the only additional airline to fly the trans-Pacific," said Kate Pratley, a Singapore Airlines spokeswoman.

"In this case, Air Canada has obviously made a business decision and it confirms there is a complete lack of competition on the trans-Pacific route," she said.

Air Canada has announced plans to launch a daily service on the route with its new fleet of long-range Boeing 777s.

"We believe it's time to get in there and compete," said the airline's Australian general manager, Jeannie Foster. Air Canada said a recent open skies treaty signed between the US and Canada would allow it to fly the previously barred route.

The announcement comes two days after the federal Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey, met Air Canada officials and opened a Tourism Australia office in Toronto.

The number of Canadians visiting Australia is growing at 7 per cent a year and recently topped 100,000 a year.

However, it is likely Air Canada will also be eyeing the heavy demand for business traffic between Sydney and Los Angeles. Like Singapore Airlines and Qantas's only competitor on the LA route, United, Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance.

The airline said it also saw "attractive opportunities ... to work with its Star Alliance partners Air New Zealand, United Airlines and US Airways".

In a bid to boost its appeal to higher-yielding corporate passengers, Air Canada will also introduce business class beds later this year.

Ms Foster said the new Air Canada flights would cut the flight time from Sydney to Toronto from 25 to 21 hours. She said this would appeal to many business passengers flying to eastern Canadian cities such as Montreal and Ottawa. "We think we can get you to Canada a whole lot quicker," she said.

At the moment Air Canada flies a daily service between Sydney to Vancouver via Honolulu. Ms Foster hinted the airline could start a direct service between Sydney and Vancouver with its new 777s next year.

Qantas was unavailable for comment.

Singapore Airlines has argued its inability to fly the the Sydney-LA route is costing Australia $126 million in lost tourist revenue.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 05:11 AM   #398
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AUSTRALIA PRESS: Qantas May Dump Australian Airlines
26 January 2006

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU) is expected to announce plans to ditch loss-making international leisure carrier Australian Airlines later this year as it prepares to begin flying low-cost offshoot Jetstar on international routes in early 2007, The Australian Financial Review reports Friday.

Without citing sources, the newspaper says it understands the plans involve keeping Australian Airlines' operations but absorbing them into either Qantas's or Jetstar's international operations and ultimately killing the Australian Airlines brand.

The announcement might come when Qantas reveals the first routes to be flown by Jetstar in May, but it is believed to be waiting for a clearer picture of the impact of the federal government's industrial relations overhaul before making a decision, the report says.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:43 AM   #399
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Air Canada bid ousts Singapore
28 January 2006
The Age

OPPOSITION is hardening within Federal Government ranks on allowing Singapore Air access to the trans-Pacific route after Air Canada this week announced plans to begin flights between Los Angeles and Sydney early next year.

Air Canada will join Qantas and United Airlines to be the only airlines to fly directly on the route, which accounts for up to 20 per cent of Qantas' profits.

"It certainly diminishes the argument Singapore has for the need for more competition," said federal Liberal backbencher and Qantas supporter Bruce Baird.

"From my point of view they (Air Canada) have more claim to fly across the Pacific than Singapore Airlines because they will be flying Canadians back home," he said.

There is further speculation another US carrier may enter the capacity-starved route amid early signs of a recovery in the North American aviation market.

According to some reports, Singapore Air had already lost the support of some politicians. A federal cabinet aviation policy review due in March is expected to heavily restrict Singapore Air's access on the LA route. There are suggestions Singapore Air might be allowed to operate a paltry three weekly services from Sydney to LA and not use its giant A380s on the route.

The Government leader in the Senate, Nick Minchin, previously cited as a supporter of opening up the route, is now said to be against Singapore flying on it.

Prime Minister John Howard has already voiced caution over allowing Singapore Air on the route. And there is speculation National Party leader Mark Vaile and Senator Ian Campbell have softened their pro-competition stance.

Qantas is now expected to argue that Singapore Air's entry to the route would see it competing with three Star Alliance airlines on the route.

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation managing director Peter Harbison said the Air Canada announcement could damage Singapore Air's ability to gain access to the Sydney to Los Angeles route.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:44 AM   #400
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Virgin facing air safety review
Steve Creedy, Aviation writer
28 January 2006
The Australian

AIR safety investigators are reviewing Virgin Blue's emergency procedures after some passengers failed to put on oxygen masks and there were communication problems during an emergency descent on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau interim report this week revealed cabin pressure on the November 9 flight fell to the equivalent of an altitude of 15,000ft (4570m), compared with the 8000ft level at which cabin pressure is normally set.

The report also revealed that some passengers ignored deployed oxygen masks and cabin crew did not hear a warning that the plane was about to undertake an emergency descent.

The ATSB said its investigation would include an analysis of the crew and passenger responses to the depressurisation.

"The Virgin investigation is ongoing and we're looking at the whole process," said ATSB deputy director Alan Stray.

"Crew response is a standard part of an investigation of any depressurisation incident."

The incident was one of two involving Virgin Blue within a month.

Nine people were taken to hospital on December 3 after a plane dropped from 36,000ft to 10,000ft on a flight from Townsville to Brisbane after an outer windscreen in the cockpit cracked. The passengers, complaining of earache, headache, nosebleeds and vomiting, were admitted to hospital but released the next day.

No one was injured in the November incident, which involved a Boeing 737-700 aircraft flying over NSW at 40,000ft.

A pilot suffering an upset stomach and discomfort in the ears noticed that air pressure in the cabin was dropping. The crew donned their oxygen masks and began an emergency descent.

"The pilot-in-charge attempted to inform the cabin crew of the emergency descent, but the announcement was not heard on the passenger address system," the report said.

The co-pilot manually deployed the passenger oxygen masks seconds before a cabin altitude warning horn indicated the pressure had reached the equivalent of 10,000ft.

The flight crew requested traffic control clearance for an emergency descent to 10,000ft and began to descend at rates of up to 6000ft each minute.

The crew reported that the cabin pressure dropped to the equivalent of an altitude of 15,000ft but stabilised as the aircraft descended to 20,000ft.

The US Federal Aviation Authority Civil Aeromedical Institute classifies any decompression as significant if the cabin pressure reaches the equivalent of 14,000ft. An investigation by Virgin found that two valves on the jet failed to operate correctly.
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