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Old January 31st, 2006, 03:31 AM   #401
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Proposed Sydney Airport Mall a Security Risk: NSW Govt

SYDNEY, Jan 31 Asia Pulse - A proposed A$200 million (US$149.5 million) mega-mall at Sydney Airport would pose a security threat and make the terminal more vulnerable to terrorism, the NSW government says.

The development would only sit 250 metres from the northern end of the third runway, and had not been properly assessed for security risks, the government said in a submission to the Sydney Airport Corporation (SACL).

Today's Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted the submission as saying: "The master plan does not rigorously assess the risk and necessary security arrangements that will be needed to accommodate the development.

"(We recommend that) SACL undertake a rigorous risk assessment of the security issues in constructing and operating the retail precinct along with the necessary mitigation works to adequately manage any risks identified."

Increased traffic in the area and the impact on surrounding retail businesses were also of concern, the government said.

The proposal - which will include an extra 3,000 car spaces, retail outlets, cinema and a pub - is exempt from state planning approvals and requires only federal government consent.

Police Minister Carl Scully will reportedly refer the proposal to counter-terrorism experts for assessment, as well as the Commonwealth, for consideration by aviation security authorities.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 06:06 PM   #402
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Qantas, United Airlines jets involved in minor collision at Australian airport's taxi way
1 February 2006

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Passenger jets owned by Qantas and United Airlines were involved in a minor collision at Melbourne Airport on Thursday, airport officials and the carriers said. There were no injuries.

"A Qantas Boeing 767 was clipped by a Boeing 747 operated by another airline on a taxi way at Melbourne Airport," Qantas Airways Ltd. said in a statement.

Airport spokesman Tom Perry said the collision was "a minor incident -- no passengers were hurt."

The Qantas jet was due to fly from Melbourne to Sydney with 155 passengers and 11 crew on board but did not take off after the collision.

In a statement, United said its Flight 840 from Melbourne to Los Angeles via Sydney reported "a wingtip touch with a Qantas aircraft as it taxied."

The carrier said none of the plane's 99 passengers were injured. The flight also had 14 crew.

"The cause of this incident is not known at this time and United is investigating," the airline said.

United was organizing alternative travel plans for the affected passengers.

The Australian Transport Safety Board was investigating the collision.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 05:56 AM   #403
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Air Tahiti spreading its wings
Steve Creedy
3 February 2006
The Australian

NICHE player Air Tahiti Nui has become the latest airline to express trans-Pacific aspirations, saying it would like to expand its Australia-US connections to include a Brisbane service and a daily flight to Sydney.

The Tahitian airline introduces its third weekly flight from Australia to Tahiti on March 26, but says it has now used up all its current access rights to Sydney.

The three flights, using Airbus A340-300 aircraft seating 294 passengers in three classes, will connect with non-stop services to the US east and west coasts that also offer one-stop connections to Paris.

Air Tahiti Nui chief executive Nelson Levy said the response to the airline in Australia had exceeded expectations.

He said about a third of its Australian passengers were going through to Los Angeles or New York.

"In December, the best load we had from all our network was a Sydney-Papete flight with 82 per cent and the Paris flight, which usually performs the best for us, was only 76 per cent," he said. "We were very pleased. The Australian market has been increasing steadily since we launched the non-stop flight in July."

The Tahitian carrier has expanded from one aircraft to five in seven years and has expanded its reach to both Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Levy said the airline did not wish to grow too big or compete head-on with the giants, and had a comfortable niche market.

"We have only three traffic rights to Sydney per week, so with the third flight we're adding in March we will use all our traffic rights," he said.

"But, probably within the next year, we will request more traffic rights from the Australian Government and if we get those Brisbane will be a good addition.

"But first we probably would like to increase the number of weekly services to Sydney, going from three to five and, in the longer run, from five to seven.

"As in all our destinations, we need to build frequency."

Air Tahiti Nui marketing chief Richard Hall said the airline was also holding discussions with Tourism Australia and several private sector operators about promoting Australia and Tahiti as complementary destinations in the European and North American market.

"It's a particularly nice combination and a different sort of level of offer -- the sublime Sydney and terrific Tahiti type combination," he said. Air New Zealand is also fine-tuning its trans-Pacific strategy, announcing this week it would move Auckland-San Francisco to a daily service from June 5. The Kiwi airline will also suspend its twice weekly non-stop Christchurch-Los Angeles service during the April-October off-season because of lack of demand.

Air Canada last week signalled its intention to seek permission to fly the Sydney-Los Angeles-Toronto route.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:28 AM   #404
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Qantas brushes off plane scare
6 February 2006
The Advertiser

QANTAS has played down an aborted landing at Adelaide Airport, saying they are "commonplace" and no cause for alarm.

The Boeing 737-800 plane with 82 passengers aborted moments before touch-down from Canberra about 7pm last Wednesday.

Passenger Anthony Hodson said the incident had startled many passengers "given the current environment".

Mr Hodson said the wheels were almost on the tarmac when the pilot suddenly "powered on" and the plane took off and circled before landing safely.

Passengers were told it was because of "other traffic" on the runway. A "gold" frequent flyer, Mr Hodson said he had never experienced an aborted landing before.

However, a Qantas spokeswoman said "go arounds", as the industry termed aborted landings, happened every day with every airline. Air Services Australia confirmed there were at least "four or five" a week at major airports, but were not reportable incidents.

A spokesperson from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority was unavailable.

Asked if the prevalence of aborted landings was concerning, the Qantas spokesman replied: "I don't really understand your point." Pressed on whether they posed danger to crew and passengers, she said: "Well, I don't know, I guess you'll have to ask Air Services Australia about that.

"I have spoken to our chief pilot, who tells me this kind of manoeuvre is considered to be safe and normal."

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has branded continuing delays for the opening of the new Adelaide Airport terminal as "a real embarrassment" for South Australia.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:39 AM   #405
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Qantas to buy way into Indonesia
Scott Rochfort
6 February 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

QANTAS is about to buy a stake in its third Asian low-cost airline, after reports the national carrier has held talks with Indonesian low-cost carrier AdamAir.

The airline's chief executive, Gunawan Suherman, told the Indonesian state news agency Antara last Friday that Qantas wanted a 30 per cent stake in AdamAir, which is based in Jakarta. He said he was preparing to sell 20 per cent.

A Qantas spokeswoman declined to say whether it was planning to buy into AdamAir but confirmed Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon and chief financial officer Peter Gregg had recently held talks with AdamAir.

It is a little over a year since the launch of Qantas's part-owned Singaporean airline Jetstar Asia. Qantas has repeatedly complained about the airline's lack of air rights from Singapore into Indonesia.

Qantas was seeking to address this problem last year when Jetstar Asia absorbed the financially-stricken Valuair, the most valuable asset of which appeared to be its air rights into the rapidly growing Indonesian market.

AdamAir would step up Qantas's involvement in Indonesia, giving it access to 20-odd air routes in one of the world's fastest growing aviation markets. AdamAir has a fleet of 15 737s.

The Indonesian Government has already endorsed Qantas's link-up with AdamAir.

This is despite Indonesia barring Jetstar Asia and other foreign low-cost airlines flying on its key Jakarta and Surabaya routes for fear of competing against the country's ailing national carrier, Garuda.

"We welcome them. Strategic partnership is all about business, the Government can only play its regulatory role," Indonesia's Minister of Transportation Hatta Radjasa told the Xinhua news agency over the weekend.

It is no secret that Qantas has been scouring Asia for new airline investments.

Qantas actually looked at the option of buying into Macau Air after Virgin Blue walked away from talks with the airline early last year.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:51 AM   #406
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I love AdamAir's orange colors, very unique. Speaking of AdamAir and it's 737's it would be nice to see an AdamAir fleet of 737-700 or -800s with winglets.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 07:04 AM   #407
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Jetstar seeks to post gains in the bush
James Hall
6 February 2006
Australian Financial Review

The budget carrier hopes to tap into a section of the market that's been largely ignored, writes James Hall.

Qantas Airways' low-cost offshoot Jetstar is confident it will gain approval to sell tickets through post offices in Victoria next month.

It is the first stage of a plan to reach new customers in the bush, as well as people who do not have access to a computer or a credit card, by taking advantage of Australia Post's national capacity to handle financial transactions.

It is understood that the service could be worth more than $10 million a year in revenue to Jetstar, which aims to generate more than 5 per cent of ticket sales from it.

If the Victorian proposal is accepted by the Standing Committee of Officers of Consumer Affairs, Jetstar and Australia Post will move to gain permission from the other states and territories.

The plan requires changes to legislation that stops anyone other than registered travel agents selling airline tickets. It has met some resistance by agents, but it is understood that, as about 90 per cent of Jetstar tickets are sold online, the impact of the scheme on agents will be minimal.

The scheme could be fully functioning by the end of this year, with set-up taking about six months.

"Our aspiration is that by exploring this distribution channel we will grow our market share and our access to a broader consumer base," a Jetstar spokesman said.

"There are more than 1000 postcode districts in Australia that don't have a Jetstar travel agent within them - in regional Victoria, parts of regional Queensland and NSW and in Tasmania. We want access to a greater portion of that market."

It comes as Jetstar aims to continue the rapid growth in passenger numbers it has enjoyed since launching in May 2004 and consolidate its domestic position before the launch of its international services in January next year.

Up to November, the latest month for which Jetstar has released operating statistics, 2.2 million passengers had flown Jetstar this financial year, an increase of 37 per cent on the same point in 2004-05.

However, Jetstar's growth rate is expected to normalise in 2005-06 and the airline is facing a resurgence in passenger growth at rival low-cost carrier Virgin Blue.

At this stage, Jetstar - which plans to announce its first international routes other than Sydney-Christchurch in May - is only seeking permission to sell domestic tickets in post offices.

Australia Post nationwide handles some 280 million financial transactions a year, and its share of all financial transactions is at its highest in regional areas.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #408
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Virgin pushes hard to get to LA
James Hall
7 February 2006
Australian Financial Review

Virgin Blue is talking to Boeing and Airbus about buying long-distance aircraft as it looks to fast-track an application to the government to fly from Sydney to Los Angeles, allowing it to take on arch rival Qantas Airways on its most profitable route.

The low-cost airline, which will hold its annual meeting in Brisbane this afternoon, was also pursuing a code-share and loyalty program agreement with United Airlines, chief executive Brett Godfrey said.

United is the only other airline flying Sydney-LA and is also a potential supplier of connecting flights within the US to Virgin Blue.

Transport Minister Warren Truss has indicated that an application by Singapore Airlines to fly the lucrative route is likely to be rebuffed by cabinet's aviation policy review later this month.

Virgin Blue previously indicated it would be able to start flying Sydney to LA within two years of such a decision but it is understood it could begin services a lot sooner.

"We have laid down what we think is required if they want us to get on it," Mr Godfrey said. "We are waiting for the conclusion to the aviation reform review.

"If it is positive and we feel they will genuinely support us, then we will go for it."

But Mr Godfrey said Virgin Blue would not take on Singapore Airlines or other non-privatised airlines such as Emirates on the route.

"We are not anti-competition . . . but we are not going to allow the capital we put in to be decimated because [we are competing with] a guy with deeper pockets who is backed by his government," he said.

Both Singapore Airlines and Emirates consistently reject the claim they have an unfair advantage because of government ownership.

Mr Godfrey said Virgin Blue was looking at every aspect of launching the trans-Pacific service before the cabinet decision to allow swift action if the decision was favourable.

"Everything's subject to what the government decides, but . . . if we wait until the decision is taken, then we have to start from scratch," he said.

"It's worthwhile spending money and resources to get in a position where, with the right pricing and government backing, we can do it."

Mr Godfrey said Virgin Blue was hoping to convince United to code-share some services with Virgin Blue and allow members of its recently launched Velocity loyalty program to use their points on its flights.
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Old February 8th, 2006, 02:48 AM   #409
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First OzJet targets Perth - then it's Brisbane's turn
James McCullough
8 February 2006
The Courier-Mail

ALTHOUGH a minnow on the domestic aviation stage, the country's newest airline, OzJet, will next month expand its service to Perth and hopes to be able to establish a route to Brisbane by the middle of the year.

OzJet began life two months ago, operating four Boeing 737 jets with just 60 large seats each on the Melbourne to Sydney run.

Chairman Paul Stoddart has aspirations of expanding the service nationally, eventually building the fleet to 12 jets.

Mr Stoddart and fellow director Robert Grove said it was about time Perth travellers could escape the Qantas strangehold.

"We've decided on Perth as the next city for OzJet because of feedback from the market, particularly people who have already flown with us on the Sydney-Melbourne route."

OzJet's one-way fares between Perth and Melbourne will start at $499, with none higher than $800.

Mr Grove said the Perth route came after numerous inquiries from disgruntled business commuters sick and tired of paying up to $1600 each way on Qantas flights.

The airline plans to operate one service a day in and out of Perth from Sundays to Fridays. The new routes would ensure maximum utilisation of aircraft with flights arriving in Perth about 9.30pm six nights a week and east-bound services departing at 11.30pm.

"We'll offer value, space and service and we can grow the service if the market wants it," Mr Stoddart said.

OzJet will seek regulatory approval for the Perth service by applying to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for a variation to its Air Operator Certificate granted in November 2005.

"We worked closely and harmoniously with CASA on the very comprehensive application processes for the AOC and we look forward to dealing with its thoroughly professional team again on this new project," Mr Stoddart said.

Further aircraft will be added to the fleet in coming months as the airline expands to other capital cities.

OzJet cabins have just 15 rows of seats, configured two by two either side of the aisle -- eliminating annoying middle seats.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 12:10 AM   #410
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Virgin flights to US lower cost, but keeps frills
Steve Creedy
10 February 2006
The Australian

VIRGIN Blue says its proposed US service will lower the cost of travel across the Pacific, but it is not planning to launch a no-frills services.

While it is still waiting for federal Government confirmation that Singapore Airlines will not be allowed to fly the route, it has put together a team to work on the concept and has been talking to plane manufacturers.

It believes it can launch the airline in less than two years if it gets the green light from the Government.

"We've kept moving forward," chief executive Brett Godfrey said this week.

"There are things that we can't do. We're not going to go out and incur equipment costs, we're not going to sign contracts but we're certainly putting people together in anticipation."

Mr Godfrey said Virgin had done enough analysis to know which aircraft is best suited for its proposed operation. Operation would have to begin with an aircraft that was already flying, but it was also looking at the next generation of aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

However, its final decision would depend on how many flights it could get between Australian and the US. "The only difficulty at the moment is that qualified new entrants, which would be Australian-American carriers, are allowed and granted four services a week and we've said that's inadequate," Mr Godfrey said.

"We want at least daily and commitments to go beyond that to be competitive."

Mr Godfrey said the airline was not planning a long-haul version of its domestic carrier.

He agreed the airline would need to have a name other than Virgin, unless Virgin Atlantic part-owner Singapore Airlines agreed to sign off on the brand's use. "It would be a differentiated product to what's out there today," he said.

"We certainly believe we can do it cheaper and differently but it wouldn't be jamming as many as you can into a single class."

As reported in The Australian yesterday, Singapore's bid to fly across the Pacific could be deferred for another two years to allow Virgin to get its new airline off the ground.

The concept apparently has the support of Transport Minister Warren Truss, who believes an Australian-owned budget carrier would better boost falling tourist numbers in the critically important market.

Mr Truss is understood to be already lobbying US Transport Secretary Norman Mineta for daily rights for a Virgin airline.

Virgin is also talking to United Airlines, the only US carrier to fly between Australia and the US mainland, about a deal to share reservation codes and frequent-flyer points.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 10:22 PM   #411
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Troubled Adelaide airport set to open
11 February 2006
The Australian

ADELAIDE'S $260million domestic air terminal will finally open next week, nearly four months after contaminated fuel pipes forced embarrassing delays.

After nine delays stretching from its scheduled October 18 start date until yesterday, Adelaide Airport Limited managing director Phil Baker confirmed fuel lines had been declared free of contamination and airlines were welcome to move in.

"The fuel is now all OK," Mr Baker told The Weekend Australian. "I'll be having a few lemonades over the weekend with my colleagues."

Just days before the Prime Minister officially opened the airport on October 12, Mr Baker was told pipes in its fuel pumping system were coated with a contaminated anti-corrosive agent.

After the pipes were cleared in late December, they were then found to be contaminated with construction debris, including concrete.

ExxonMobil completed testing on the embattled pipes and signed off on the results with support from fellow fuel suppliers Shell and BP late yesterday.

Mr Baker said international airlines would use the fuel system from Tuesday and domestic airlines would be able to move when ready.

"It is regrettable that full use of the new terminal has been delayed and that the long-term benefits of the new facility have been temporarily overshadowed," he said.

ExxonMobil aviation regional operations manager Scott Harris said the principal concern during the delay was safety.

"This is the very least that would be expected of us by the travelling public and our airline customers," Mr Harris said.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 05:34 PM   #412
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Qantas result to anger workers
Scott Rochfort
13 February 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald

A BUMPER Qantas half-year result this week is likely to inflame the tempers of its maintenance workers, who are already seething over the airline's push to slash overtime pay and possibly retrench thousands of maintenance jobs.

There are signs 2100 maintenance workers are preparing to strike. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union will meet delegates this week to discuss its next move.

"The best thing for Qantas to do will be to immediately adopt a sensible position around the bargaining table and tell workers what's in store," said the AMWU's NSW assistant state secretary, Tim Ayres.

Qantas described enterprise bargaining talks between the two parties as constructive and played down the prospect of a strike.

"There's been no suggestion of any industrial action," said Qantas's head of engineering, David Cox.

Since announcing a review of its maintenance operations in October, which Qantas admitted could result in work being sent overseas, the airline has stressed the decision is unrelated to its enterprise bargaining talks with the AMWU and the Australian Workers Union.

The unions, which have so far refrained from threatening to strike, see this as a tactic to keep them in the dark over plans to send maintenance overseas.

They also want Qantas to outline how it intends to handle the new industrial relations laws.

"It's really important that Qantas understands the sensible way forward to ensure that we avoid a dispute is to get around the table and to come clean," Mr Ayres said.

Mr Cox said: "When we have made a decision we will consult our employees and the relevant unions and we will meet all of our legal and EBA obligations."

Qantas says it is at a big disadvantage to major airlines using maintenance repair and overhaul facilities overseas. The carrier argues the costs at these facilities are 20 per cent less than its own.

"The Qantas position has always been that changes must be made across the business to ensure we remain competitive," Mr Cox said. "This is a much broader issue than just the EBA."

Enterprise bargaining talks between Qantas and AMWU and AWU hit another stalemate last week over the airline's demand to slash overtime pay.

The AMWU says the average worker's pay packet could be cut $14,000 a year if it agrees to Qantas's demands.

The airline wants workers to bank up to 38 hours overtime. They will be paid when they are laid off for up to one week (with no normal pay) during quiet times.

Qantas also wants to average out 38-hour working weeks over a six-month period rather than the current four weeks. Staff would work long hours with no overtime in busy periods and few hours in quiet times.

Unions say Qantas is using the threat of job losses - as part of its review - to drive a harder bargaining position at the EBA table.

Air NZ has held off sending work overseas after drawing major concessions from unions in New Zealand to cut jobs and overtime pay.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 06:36 AM   #413
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Controllers see delays ahead for new airport's passengers
Verity Edwards
15 February 2006
The Australian

PASSENGERS could face delays because of design faults in Adelaide airport's new $260million terminal, air traffic controllers have claimed.

They say they will be working blind, unable to see planes docked at the terminal gates, when the trouble-plagued building finally opens on Friday after months of delays caused by contaminated fuel lines.

The terminal has been built out of the line of sight of the control tower.

Veteran air traffic controller and Civil Air Union representative Kym Smith said the terminal was "not in the right position for the tower".

"It's a bit like standing down one end of a street and looking at parked cars," he said.

"You can see their bumper bars, but you can't see if there's a space between two cars.

"It creates a distraction we don't need -- and distractions are always better avoided."

Mr Smith was also concerned the terminal was built with one rather than two taxiways, creating the possibility of bottlenecks.

A plane moving towards an occupied gate would be forced to wait for the other to move -- delaying every other flight at the terminal, he said. "If a pilot says he's inbound for gate 14 and gate 14 hasn't moved yet ... we can't see that," he said.

Air traffic controllers are critical of the airport's 17m-high tower, which is more than 20 years old and does not have a lift.

Mr Smith said Airservices Australia, which operates the tower, was considering locations for a new one but it would take four years to design and construct.

"Assuming we get enough height and a good enough angle, we'll be able to see the new terminal and the old general aviation terminal, but I'm not sure the delays would be overcome," he said. Airport staff had been given little chance to comment on the terminal layout.

Airservices Australia acting executive director Richard Dudley said that despite sections of the terminal being out of sight, procedures to move planes in and out of gates were in place.

He said the company did not think the issue was a problem, with a limited view of terminals from control towers not uncommon at other airports.

Airservices Australia had held consultations during the design of the new terminal.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 10:34 AM   #414
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Wednesday February 15, 04:03 PM
Qantas Eyeing Garuda Partnership: Report

SYDNEY, Feb 15 Asia Pulse - Australia's Qantas (ASX:QAN) is considering a potential partnership with Indonesia's Garuda airlines, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

The newspaper said the airline was keen to get a toehold in the country and would possibly use Indonesia as a cheap maintenance base on short-haul flights.

Qantas executives met with Garuda earlier this month, but would not specify what was discussed in the meeting, the newspaper said.

The speculation comes as Qantas also reportedly considers taking a 20 per cent stake in Indonesia's AdamAir.

ASIA PULSE
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Old February 16th, 2006, 05:49 AM   #415
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Qantas H1 profit falls 10 pct on fuel, job cuts

SYDNEY, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd. , the world's ninth-largest airline by market value, posted a 10 percent fall in first-half profit on a soaring fuel bill and the cost of cutting 600 workers, and warned of more job losses.

Qantas said it had already identified two-thirds of the A$1.5 billion ($1 billion) in savings from its 2007/08 restructuring plan, including setting up stand-alone engineering businesses to compete against providers in North America, Asia and Europe.

"All our business transformation initiatives are now focused on enabling Qantas to meet its future expenditure commitments and profit projections with a fuel cost above $60 a barrel," Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said in a statement.

Net profit for the six months ended Dec. 31 declined to A$352.6 million from A$390.2 million a year earlier. The carrier had warned in August its fiscal 2006 earnings would fall due to soaring fuel prices, after it posted a record fiscal 2005 profit.

Analysts' first-half profit forecasts had ranged from A$354 million to A$360 million, according to three brokerage reports.

Shares in Qantas, which also operates the budget carrier Jetstar, were down 1.2 percent at A$4 by 11:17 a.m. (0017 GMT). The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index <.AXJO> was down 0.6 percent.

The price of jet fuel traded in Singapore <JET-SIN> jumped nearly 60 percent in 2005. Qantas said higher fuel prices during the first half increased its underlying fuel costs by A$689.8 million before hedging benefits of A$214.7 million.

Qantas said its three-year A$1.5 billion "sustainable future" plan had so far achieved A$1.27 billion in savings. That plan finishes in June. The company announced in August last year it would seek a further A$1.5 billion in savings over 2007/08.

Qantas, with 38,000 staff, has approved the international expansion of its low-cost domestic airline Jetstar to fly to cities within six to 10 hours of Australia by January 2007.

Part of that plan included the decision two months ago to order 45 twin-aisled Boeing Co. B787 jets, with options for 20 more, valuing the total deal at about A$13 billion.

The first B787 delivery is scheduled for August 2008.

Dixon announced a new executive structure to allow senior managers the "freedom to pursue" business developments and said over the next two years the company would also develop two distinct and competitive brands -- Qantas and Jetstar.

"The Jetstar strategy involves expanding the domestic network, launching international operations and bringing the Jetstar Asia operation closer to the Jetstar Group," he said.

New Jetstar joint ventures are planned for other parts of the world. Qantas Airways owns 44.5 percent of the holding company that owns Singapore-based Jetstar Asia. The other major owner is Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings Ltd. [TEM.UL]. ($1=A$1.35)
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Old February 17th, 2006, 02:51 AM   #416
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Adelaide - Finally, it's take-off day
Now, we've got to bring the world here
17 February 2006
The Advertiser

WITH Adelaide's new $260 million airport terminal cleared for take-off, the State Government last night released an aviation strategy to attract more airlines to the city.

Premier Mike Rann signalled plans to lobby Malaysian Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas to follow the lead of Singapore Airlines and operate daily international flights in and out of Adelaide. He believed there was also a "strong case" for Cathay Pacific to operate here.

Mr Rann said that if re-elected on March 18, the Government would also try to entice China Airlines, Emirates, China Southern, China Eastern, Air China, India's Jet Airways, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar International and NZ's Freedom Air to come to Adelaide.

The first domestic flights out of the new terminal are scheduled to leave this morning after airlines moved from the old terminal last night.

The scheduled 6am departures are Qantas flight 730 and Virgin Blue flight 401, both to Sydney. The first arrival, Qantas flight 713 from Canberra, is scheduled to land at 7.30am.

Virgin Blue will put on a first-flight party in the departure lounge by the new glass aerobridge at Gate 14 with balloons, party poppers - and "much enthusiasm", public relations manager Amanda Bolger said yesterday.

"There's a very good vibe here," she said.

Adelaide Airport managing director Phil Baker said the opening would be "a great relief". All flights were to have used the terminal from mid-October last year, but problems with the underground aircraft-fuelling system forced a four-month delay.

Mr Baker said compensation talks would continue. He expected most retail outlets in the terminal would start operating in the next few days.

A passenger charge on tickets - $1.40 regional, $6 domestic and $8.30 international - would apply from today to help cover the cost of security.

Last night, road markings and signs were being changed to redirect people to the new building and extra airport staff will help people use it today.

People needing taxis will be assisted by a concierge, removing the need for them to hail their own.

A short-term carpark in front of the new terminal takes 800 cars, while the 600 places of the old domestic terminal will be available for long-term parking.

The Adelaide Metro JetBus from the city will operate every 30 minutes, the frequency increasing to 15 minutes at peak times.
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Old February 18th, 2006, 01:40 AM   #417
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Hell on flight 108: getting home is a 56-hour ordeal
Steve Foley
18 February 2006
The Age

ODDLY, it was the captain of Qantas flight 108 nearing the end of a 56-hour journey from New York who put it best: "This is not Qantas' finest hour," he said.

Few among his several hundred bedraggled passengers, many destined for Melbourne, would have disagreed.

They would have sympathised with the young American girl phoning home after touchdown on Wednesday night: "Mom, I've just been on the flight from hell."

"Hell" was the extraordinary time it took flight 108 to travel from John F. Kennedy Airport to Melbourne, a journey that normally takes 23 hours. We should have got home at 9.25am Tuesday, not 7.30pm the next day.

Perhaps it was not the kind of "disaster" to be mentioned in aviation annals but from the outpourings of apologies from Qantas area managers, to the unaccustomed frankness of frustrated pilots, it was a public relations fiasco.

When travellers are miscast in the tragi-comedy-drama that unfolded this week, they bond. An esprit de corps developed among groups as diverse as Orthodox Jews coming to Melbourne for a wedding, American students bound for university in Australia, surfers from Canada, seasoned business commuters and even a journalist returning from holiday in the Big Apple.

For most, flight 108 became an endurance test to rival anything the producers of the hit reality TV show The Amazing Race could conceive.

This amazing race to get home included not only the need to navigate around hundreds of cancelled flights (due to the worst snow storm in New York history), repeated delays, little information and no ground staff in attendance.

That much was expected, but not a 12-hour wait on the tarmac at JFK without food or refreshment as Qantas management and flight staff debated whether to queue for 190 minutes for take-off to Los Angeles or line up to find a spare gate back at the terminal.

One businessman fell asleep for seven hours and woke expecting to be over LA. He was stunned to discover he had not left New York.

When a Turkish Airlines jet skidded off the runway earlier in the night and another runway required urgent snow clearing, all departing jets had to compete for the only remaining take-off path.

Flight 108, we were told, faced two obstacles: the lack of sufficient fuel to queue for hours and still reach LA, and safety limits on the crew's hours of work.

As we taxied, engines burning fuel to keep the air circulating, cabin staff were ordered to arm the doors. This meant that for 12 hours we could not be served food or hot drinks and there was no entertainment. The passivity of the passengers was remarkable, as was the pilot's growing anxiety.

"Ladies and gentleman," he said in one broadcast, "I don't want to alarm you . . ." Later, he said: "I don't like being snowed, and there's a lot of snow out there."

Information from airport authorities was not forthcoming as the convergence of delayed flights trying to get out and scheduled services trying to get in became unmanageable.

Returning to gate six 12 hours after we left, was surreal: slumped in the terminal were the same faces from the flights that preceded us.

Flight 108 passengers then began another 12-hour wait while a replacement plane and crew flew from LA. To make matters worse, Qantas announced no hotel rooms could be found.

Past midnight, almost 30 hours after our original departure time, delayed flight 108 was finally headed for LA. But just as it seemed things could not get any worse, they did.

On arrival in LA, Qantas announced an unexpected diversion to New Zealand. The reason? Crew changeover - those safety limits again.

As flight 108 crossed the international dateline, the captain said we only had been given the "partial truth" for the diversion to New Zealand.

It seemed Qantas ground staff in LA had failed to inform the crew that our flight was delayed until 2.30am. They had been bussed to the airport at 9pm, and crew work limits had automatically come into effect.

But that news, for some, was only the penultimate blow.

"Ladies and gentleman, for those customers waiting for dinner, there is no chicken left but there's still plenty of drinks," we were further advised. What a good idea; let's all get smashed.

Steve Foley and his wife travelled to New York as economy-fare paying passengers. They were given an upgrade to business class for the New York to Los Angeles leg of their return flight.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 04:48 PM   #418
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INTERVIEW: Govt May Ease Qantas Foreign Ownership Limit
23 February 2006

CANBERRA (Dow Jones)--Australia may ease Qantas Airways Ltd.'s (QAN.AU) foreign ownership restrictions if the government succeeds in a push to change the way other countries categorize an airline's nationality.

Transport Minister Warren Truss said Thursday he was lobbying for other governments to recognize designated airlines by their principle place of business, rather than by ownership criteria.

"Rights in many parts of the world depend on local ownership, that's why we didn't allow Qantas to extend its levels of foreign ownership," Truss said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

On Tuesday, Truss denied Qantas' push to have its 49% foreign ownership cap raised. The Qantas Sale Act, which allowed the airline to be privatized in 1992 and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1995, also restricts foreign airline ownership of Qantas stock to 25% individually or 35% in aggregate.

Offshore investors currently hold 46.21% of Qantas shares and no airlines have a substantial stake in the Australian carrier.

Australia this week also rejected Singapore Airlines Ltd.'s (S55.SG) request for access to the Australia-U.S. route dominated by Qantas.

Truss said at the time Singapore couldn't offer enough in return for access to a route he considered a "key national asset."

The decision initially appeared to further test the relationship between Australia and Singapore, already strained by last year's execution of an Australian convicted of drug smuggling by Singapore.

Singapore's Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong reacted angrily to Australia's rejection of the Singapore Airlines bid to fly between the east coast of Australia and the U.S. west coast, a route the carrier has been requesting access to for a decade.

Transport Minister Yeo accused Australia of taking his city-state for granted but Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo said Thursday the "excellent" relations between the two countries wouldn't be damaged by Australia's decision.

Australia currently allows U.S., Italian, Indian and German airlines to fly the trans-Pacific route between Australia and the U.S.

However, the United Airlines (UALAQ) and Sydney-based Qantas are the only two airlines that fly the route, with the Australian carrier enjoying a 75% market share. Italy's Alitalia S.p.A (AZA.MI) and Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA.XE) no longer operate any Australian services.

"Four U.S. airlines have tried the route and pulled out," Truss said, noting some of the bilateral air right agreements on the route were struck decades ago.

"The claims that there are huge bonuses to be made on the route are difficult to sustain," he said.

The government's modeling showed little or no benefit for Australia's economy in allowing Singapore Airlines onto the route.

"The only area of benefit arose from the congestion factor and that's a very, very difficult benefit to quantify," Truss said.

"One in 12 flights that Qantas operate on the route are full and there's some inconvenience to the passengers on those particular flights," he said.

But with so many airlines holding the rights to the route and choosing not to fly it, the issue of congestion wasn't nearly enough to tip the balance in the favor of Singapore Airlines, Truss said.

Australia, instead, chose to keep the route protected and wait to see if Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA.AU) will fulfill its plans to extend its international services to the Australia-U.S. route.

Those plans hinge on the Australian government successfully lobbying the U.S. for extra capacity on the route.

Brisbane-based Virgin Blue has said Australia-U.S. would only be a viable route if it can operate daily services. Current bilateral air rights arrangements only allow an extra four services a week on the trans-Pacific on top of the existing services offered by United and Qantas.

"We've said we've got a time frame of a couple of years," a Virgin Blue spokeswoman said. "It's still very early days."

Virgin Blue will continue discussing its bilateral requirements with the Australian government, the spokeswoman said.

Truss, meanwhile, was unable to fully explain the reasoning behind the Australian government's stated preference for a merger between Qantas and Singapore Airlines, an idea both airlines have publicly rejected.

"There are synergies of operation between Qantas and Singapore Airlines," he said. "They've had talks in the past, which we acknowledged have failed and Qantas has also talked to other airlines."

Truss said the a merger of two airlines could create synergies, but ultimately the proposal was a matter for the airlines' boards.

Anything other than a merger of equal partners wasn't part of Australia's agenda, he said.

"I can't imagine the owners of Singapore Airlines allowing Qantas to buy it," he said. "Just as we would have concerns if Singapore Airlines wanted to buy Qantas lock, stock and barrel."

-By Barbara Adam, Dow Jones Newswires
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Old February 26th, 2006, 06:29 PM   #419
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Mainline pilots to fight plan for Jetstar's international expansion
Steve Creedy
27 February 2006
The Australian

QANTAS pilots will fight plans by the flying kangaroo to launch a low-cost international airline, claiming they have been locked out of negotiations about pay and conditions at the new carrier.

Jetstar's new international operations are a major plank of Qantas's expansion plans and will have planes transferred from the airline's existing Qantas routes for the launch later this year.

The new carrier will also be the first member of the Qantas group to get next-generation Boeing 787 aircraft when they begin arriving in 2008.

But pilots on Qantas's mainline services -- those flown by Qantas rather than Jetstar -- believe the new discount airline will be used to undermine their pay and conditions. They are upset the Jetstar pilots are accepting pay rates almost $100,000 a year less than a Qantas mainline pilot and conditions the Australian International Pilots Association has described as deplorable and "a serious attack on industry standards".

AIPA president Ian Woods said the union was also angry it had been locked out of the Jetstar negotiations despite a promise that Qantas pilots would get seven of every 20 positions on the new airline.

"Qantas pilots are very concerned because the intent of Jetstar is to fly current Qantas aeroplanes on current Qantas routes," Captain Woods said.

Jetstar's pilots, who have their own council and are not members of the main Qantas pilots union, are expected to vote soon on variations to their enterprise agreement to cover the new flying.

The agreement has been endorsed by the Jetstar Pilots Council, and company officials believe it is acceptable to many of the low-cost carrier's pilots.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 07:08 AM   #420
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Virgin Blue Lobbying for Daily Flights on Sydney-La Route

SYDNEY, March 6 Asia Pulse - Sir Richard Branson today said Virgin Blue would need to fly daily to the United States for the route to be profitable to the airline.

The federal government has opened the way for Virgin Blue to introduce flights from Sydney to Los Angeles after blocking a bid by Singapore Airlines to compete with Qantas on the route.

Virgin Blue has been encouraged by the federal government to begin flying as soon as it has the appropriate fleet and staffing levels required for an international service.

"I think it does leave the way open for Virgin Blue to go on the Sydney to LA route," Sir Richard told journalists today.

"I think if we can get a daily service, which we really need to be profitable, then I think the chances are that Virgin Blue will go on that route."

Sir Richard said Virgin Blue had been lobbying to make sure seven flights a week were available on the route, as opposed to the current four flights a week.

"Over the next handful of months (Virgin Blue hopes to have an answer) but negotiations are going to have to go on with the Americans ... fingers crossed we are successful," he said.

Virgin Blue shares were half a cent lower at A$1.685 at 1209 AEDT.

(AAP)
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