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Old August 20th, 2006, 02:57 PM   #461
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelbourneCity
Qantas will begin flying 747s domestically on the Perth-Melbourne route and Perth-Sydney flights begining next month.

Only A330s and 747s will fly the routes!
The 747 flights are going to be seasonal aren't they?
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Old August 29th, 2006, 03:41 AM   #462
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Qantas lifts fuel levy for international flights
Following is a media release by Australian carrier Qantas Airways Ltd. .

SYDNEY, Aug 18 - Qantas said today that, due to continuing record fuel prices, it would increase its international fuel surcharges for tickets issued on or after 31 August 2006.

The Executive General Manager of Qantas, John Borghetti, said that Qantas would also introduce a new four-level system for its surcharges, based on the distance travelled.

For example, the fuel surcharge for our longest flight from Australia to London will be higher than for a mid-range flight from Australia to Singapore or Hong Kong," he said.

The new surcharges (AUD), for tickets issued on or after 31 August 2006, will be:

Qantas destinations new surcharge previous surcharge

Quote:
(from Australia) (one-way) (one-way)
UK and Europe $185 $98* $196#
Mainland USA, Canada
South America,
South Africa and India $145 $98
Asia, Pacific and
Honolulu $115 $98
New Zealand $65 $56

* for a direct flight

# for a two-sector journey (eg, changing flights at a mid point / stopping over)
Mr Borghetti said that since Qantas introduced fuel surcharges in May 2004, they had been applied to domestic, trans-Tasman and international travel on a per sector basis.

These new arrangements will see all customers travelling Qantas internationally to a particular destination pay the same surcharge, regardless of how many sectors they fly to reach that destination, he said.

Mr Borghetti said there would be no change to the Qantas Group's domestic fuel surcharges.

He said record high fuel prices continued to have a significant impact on Qantas.

"When Qantas first introduced a fuel surcharge in May 2004, crude oil was trading at US$40 a barrel," he said.

"Since then, prices have nearly doubled and the benchmark Singapore jet fuel price has increased from US$44 a barrel to around US$90 a barrel."

"On current forecasts, the Qantas Group's fuel bill for 2006/07 is expected to be A$3.9 billion, after hedging. This is an increase of A$2 billion in two years."

Mr Borghetti said that Qantas would continue to closely monitor the surcharges and their impact on demand.
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Old October 19th, 2006, 03:41 AM   #463
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Report: Bolt from aircraft smashes suburban roof in Australia
18 October 2006

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - A man who lives under a Sydney flight path was shocked when a bolt from an airliner crashed through his roof, according to a news report Wednesday.

Angelo Margiotta said he thought a bomb had exploded when the stainless steel bolt, which appeared to be about 15 centimeters (6 inches) long, struck his roof in the Sydney suburb of Five Dock on Wednesday morning, Ten Network television news reported.

Margiotta called the fire brigade and a firefighter found the bolt which had smashed two roof tiles and lodged in the ceiling.

"I was too shocked to talk ... because of the noise," Margiotta told Ten. "It was very, very loud."

Australia's aviation watchdog, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, was attempting to track down the plane that lost the bolt.

"Anything that comes off an aircraft has to be explained," CASA spokesman Peter Gibson told the network.

The bolt most likely came from a Boeing 747 or 767, Ten reported.

Sydney Airport officials said no aircraft had reported mechanical problems, Ten said, which suggested the bolt wasn't in use at the time it fell from the plane, Ten said.

Officials from the airport and CASA could not be immediately contacted.
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Old November 3rd, 2006, 06:18 AM   #464
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Virgin Blue Orders 20 Embraer ‘E–Jets’

'New Fleet strategy for Australia’s ‘New World Carrier’

Thursday 2 November 2006: Virgin Blue Holdings today announced a major new investment with an AUD$950 million list price order for 20 aircraft from the Embraer E-Jet family.

With deliveries commencing in 2007, the order includes firm commitments for 11 EMBRAER 190 and 3 EMBRAER 170 jet aircraft and options for 6 additional E-Jets.

The Brazilian jets – the first of their type to operate scheduled services in the Australasian region will give the Virgin Blue Group significant additional operating flexibility, while increasing efficiency through lower fuel burn.

Both aircraft types will be fitted with leather Elite seats, the widest economy seat offered worldwide on a single aisle aircraft. Virgin Blue will configure its jets in a single class, 2 x 2 seat layout.

“This acquisition is a key step-change for Virgin Blue under our New World Carrier strategy announced last year,” said the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Brett Godfrey.

“Our current fleet of Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft provides sufficient capacity to serve key routes in the Australian, trans-Tasman and Pacific Island markets, however it is not optimal on all markets,” said Mr Godfrey.

“This new jet will enhance our ability to serve the corporate market by more accurately matching seat capacity and frequency to passenger demand.

“We believe the Embraer E-jet family provides jets with large capabilities, which will enable us to operate the right sized aircraft, not only for specific routes, but for specific days and even particular times of the day and night.”

“Virgin Blue will have the ability to complement and “right size” our operations and we are currently considering a range of operating possibilities which are yet to be confirmed," added Mr Godfrey.

Coinciding with Virgin Blue's order, Embraer will bring an EMBRAER 190 aircraft to Australia later this month for a national demonstration tour, including a roadshow for Virgin Blue staff throughout the country.

As of September 30, 2006, Embraer had delivered 184 E-Jets to customers in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Finland, Poland, India, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Panama.

“We are delighted that Virgin Blue has selected our E-Jets,” said Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer Executive Vice-President, Airline Market.

“It is particularly satisfying to know that our technologically advanced and fuel efficient E-Jets fit the bill for this ‘New World Carrier’ who is once again poised to change the airline landscape in Australia and the South Pacific. “

The EMBRAER 190s ordered by the Virgin Blue Holdings group have a maximum range of 2,300 nautical miles, or 4,260 kilometres, enabling them to fly with a full payload from Sydney to anywhere in Australia, or beyond to New Zealand and a range of destinations throughout the Pacific. The EMBRAER 190 seating configuration can range from 98 to 114 seats.

The smaller EMBRAER 170s can fly 2,000 nautical miles, or 3,706 kilometres, enabling them to operate from Sydney to anywhere on Australia’s eastern seaboard, as far north as Darwin, or from Adelaide or central Australia to Perth, as well as from eastern Australia to New Zealand and parts of the Pacific. The EMBRAER 170 seating configuration can range from 70 to 80 seats.

Virgin Blue's E-Jets also will include extensive use of new weight-saving materials, fly-by-wire electronic control and new-technology fuel efficient engines reducing both fuel burn and exhaust emissions – a vital consideration in Virgin Blue’s selection of new aircraft.

In addition, the E-Jets meet the most stringent restrictions on aircraft noise, reducing noise around airports and beneath flight paths, as well as minimising cabin noise levels for passengers.

For more information about the Embraer E-Jets, visit www.embraer.com http://www.embraer.com/.
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 07:46 AM   #465
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Qantas approached by Mac Bank consortium

Wednesday Nov 22 12:22 AEDT

Qantas Airways has received a takeover approach from a consortium led by Macquarie Bank and US private equity firm Texas Pacific Group. (AAP)

Qantas Airways Ltd has received a takeover approach from a consortium led by Macquarie Bank and US private equity firm Texas Pacific Group, sending shares in Australia's biggest airline soaring to record levels.

Qantas shares shot up 67 cents or 15.4 per cent to $5.02 by 1152 AEDT, after going as high as $5.25 after the airline said it had been approached by Macquarie and Texas Pacific Group on behalf of a consortium they represent.

"The approach is confidential and incomplete and is being investigated by Qantas," Qantas said in a statement.

The airline said it had undertaken over a period of years discussions with a range of individuals and companies, including airlines, on possible partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions.

A Qantas spokesperson said the airline had nothing more to say about the approach at this stage.

A spokesperson for the Macquarie Bank, Australia's largest investment bank, also declined to comment.

Aequs Securities institutional dealer Ric Klusman said the consortium would have to pay up to $5.50 per Qantas share to snare the airline.

"Speculation is somewhere between $5.20 and $5.50," Mr Klusman said.

He said the stock had been trading so far today around $5.09 and $5.10.

"The reason it's little bit lower than where the bid is is that people are perceiving that there could be a lot of regulatory problems," Mr Klusman said.

"But given it was at $4.35 yesterday, you'd have to be at $5.50 to get it."

The confirmation of an approach followed speculation that Australia's largest airline may be the latest takeover target for a private equity company.

There had been talk that Macquarie Bank and Texas Pacific Group were preparing a buyout proposal for Qantas, potentially worth about $10 billion.

Earlier this month, analysts said a potential takeover of Qantas by a private equity group was plausible, but foreign ownership laws would make it difficult.

A 49 per cent foreign ownership cap applies to the company, meaning that a new ownership structure would have to be framed so that no more than 49 per cent is owned by overseas investors.

Individual entities are also restricted to holding no more than 25 per cent of the airline.

Qantas has a market capitalisation of about $10 billion.

Macquarie Bank already has interests in a number of airports through its specialist fund Macquarie Airports, which owns Sydney Airport.

Private equity groups have been active in the Australian market, with Coles Myer recently the focus of a failed $18.2 billion bid from US-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) and CVC Asia Pacific Ltd making a $2.7 billion play for radiology and aged care company DCA Group Ltd.

Broadcaster Seven Network Ltd this week announced it was selling its television and magazine assets into a $4 billion media joint venture with KKR, with the private equity firm and Seven each holding 50 per cent.

Last month Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd, owner of the Nine Network, announced a $4.5 billion deal to spin off its key media assets into a separate company, which will be jointly owned by PBL and CVC Asia Pacific.

©AAP 2006
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 09:03 AM   #466
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Qantas Approached About Possible Takeover

SYDNEY, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 22 — Qantas Airways, the national carrier, became the latest target of private equity groups on Wednesday, when it announced that it had been approached by a consortium led by the Macquarie Bank of Sydney and the Texas Pacific Group.

Qantas and the bidders provided few details, but in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, the company secretary, Cassandra Hamlin, said: “The approach is confidential and incomplete.” He said the offer was being examined.

The Australian news media speculated on Wednesday that the consortium was planning a bid of 5.20 to 5.50 Australian dollars per share, which would value the company at more than 10 billion Australian dollars ($7.7 billion).

News of the approach drove shares of Qantas up more than 20 percent, to 5.25 Australian dollars, before falling back.

A consultant for the Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation in Sydney, Ian Thomas, called Qantas an attractive target. “It’s got one of the healthiest balance sheets in the industry,” he said.

Like many airlines, Qantas has been hit by high fuel prices, and profit for the year to June 30 was down 30 percent, to 479.5 million Australian dollars. But analysts said that the company’s strong cash flow made it good target.

The airline still controls 60 percent of the Australian market despite challenges from recent arrivals like Virgin Blue. It has set up a low-cost airline, Jetstar, which is expanding into the broader Asia-Pacific market.

“Qantas has considerable access to the Asia-Pacific markets,” Mr. Thomas said, “which are still showing growth, particularly in China and India.”

Yet any deal for Qantas, which was once state-owned, would have to overcome shareholder limits that cap a single investor to a 25 percent stake, and restrict foreign ownership at 49 percent. The government retains a golden share that it can use to veto any takeover plans.

The Associated Press, citing The Australian Financial Review, reported that under one possible plan, Macquarie would take 25 percent of Qantas, and other Australian investors would take another 25 percent. Also, Qantas management would take 1 percent and foreign investors led by Texas Pacific would take the remaining 49 percent.

But Mr. Thomas warned that there could be problems if the bidders wanted to take the airline private. The airline remains close to the nationalist heart of Australia, and he said that any foreign buyer was likely to run into political problems even if they could overcome the shareholding limitations.

“There is a strong overlay of national iconism, preserving Qantas as an Australian entity,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/22/bu...=worldbusiness
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 02:23 PM   #467
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I hope that it's not taken over
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 10:49 AM   #468
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An article about this matter has been posted here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...136479&page=23
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 12:44 PM   #469
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A bank going into the airline business ... sounds a little weird.
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Old December 8th, 2006, 09:10 AM   #470
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Terror threat prompts Australia to tighten air travel security

SYDNEY, Dec 8, 2006 (AFP) - Australia is to tighten restrictions on what passengers can carry on international flights in response to an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners earlier this year, officials said Friday.

Air passengers entering and leaving Australia will be limited to carrying only 100 millilitres (3.4 ounces) of liquids, aerosols and gels in their hand luggage from March 31, Transport Minister Mark Vaile said.

The tougher regulations are in line with international practices developed after British authorities in August foiled an alleged plot to smuggle innocuous-looking liquids onto flights and assemble them into bombs, he said.

Vaile said security measures needed to remain "relative to the current circumstances."

"But also, and importantly, harmonise those with the major markets of the world -- as I say in the United Kingdom, the European Union, in Canada and the United States -- (where) they have these measures in place."

The restrictions mean any liquids, gels or aerosols must be carried in a one-litre clear plastic bag and screened separately.

The new rules will not apply to checked luggage, duty-free purchases or on domestic flights. Exceptions would be made for passengers carrying medicines or baby food but all items would still be screened, Vaile said.

Prime Minister John Howard said the new regulations were similar to those introduced in Britain in the wake of the plot which "may have killed thousands of people with mid-air explosions."

"In the circumstances we have no alternative, I know it's a nuisance for people but we are living in this different era and we have people who don't care about human life and we have to take precautions," he told commercial radio.

The government will consider extending the restrictions to domestic flights, Howard said.
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Old December 12th, 2006, 08:33 AM   #471
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Smoke disrupts air traffic as Australian state battles wildfires
9 December 2006

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Smoky skies disrupted flights through the main airport in Australia's Victoria state Saturday, as firefighters battled what many fear will become the state's worst wildfires in almost 60 years.

More than 20 towns were warned they could soon be threatened by the blazes, though no injuries or property damage had been reported.

Australia's largest airline, Qantas Airways, reported flight delays of up to an hour through the airport in Victoria's capital, Melbourne.

Heavy smoke across much of the eastern part of the southern state reduced visibility and triggered fire alarms in the airport's baggage handling area and control tower.

A flight from Los Angles was diverted to Sydney, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) northeast of Melbourne, and a domestic flight from Sydney was diverted to the national capital, Canberra, to refuel due to the delays over Melbourne, Qantas said.

More than 170,000 hectares (420,000 acres) of drought-stricken farmland and forests in mountainous terrain have been incinerated by 18 major fires, which threatened on Saturday to merge into a single super fire covering more than 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres).

"It's a significant possibility that all of the fires will eventually merge into one larger fire," state government environment spokeswoman Rachaele May said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"Given the scale of the fires we're looking at now and the severe drought we've had," May said, conditions over the weekend could become Victoria's most dangerous since the "Black Friday" blazes that killed 71 people in 1939.

"It's the worst drought on record for Victoria, which means all the forest and grassland is extremely dry," she said.

"The benefit we do have over the 1939 fires is that we're more prepared, our fire agencies are trained, we have more personnel trained, and we have better working arrangements with the local community now than we did then," she said.

About 3,000 firefighters -- including a team of alpine specialists from New Zealand -- supported by 30 aircraft, 350 water tankers and 88 bulldozers, battled to contain the blazes as temperature rose Saturday to nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), she said.

Wildfires are a regular feature of Australia's hot summer months, raging across thousands of hectares (acres) of forest and scrubland and sometimes blasting through cities and towns with deadly consequences.

Nine people died in fires on South Australia state's Eyre Peninsula in January 2005. Eight of the victims burned to death in their cars as they tried to flee the approaching blaze.

In 2003, more than 500 houses were destroyed and four people killed when a huge fire tore through Canberra.
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Old December 12th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #472
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Costello must cut Qantas loose
8 December 2006
Australian Financial Review


Here's a test for Treasurer Peter Costello as he prepares to sell himself to voters at next year's election as a potential prime minister. A noisy cartel of vested interests - Qantas, its shareholders and unions, and the Nationals - is trying to maintain state-conferred privileges at the expense of rival international carriers and a much wider but unorganised group, the community at large. At the same time a consortium of private equity firms, led by Macquarie Bank and Texas Pacific Group, is preparing an $11 billion approach to Qantas. Rival carriers say the government should use this opportunity to cast aside the creaking apparatus of state protection on international routes for the flag carrier and its shareholders. The Treasurer has the final say on any bid for Qantas. What should he do?

All logic says the route-protection racket - under which foreign carriers can gain access to routes into and out of Australia only by the grace and favour of the government, acting on the advice of Qantas - should go. In fact it should have been cast aside years ago. But the government, at the behest of irrational Nationals, has accepted the spurious arguments that Qantas needs protection because other countries do it and because the tourism industry and travelling public must be held to ransom for the sake of a few hundred jobs in aircraft maintenance.

This is a major blot - one of many - on the Howard government's economic reform record. Every worthwhile economic reform in the past quarter-century - cutting tariffs and taxes, competitive reforms in telecommunications, energy, domestic aviation and deregulating the labour market - has involved governments taking on narrow interests for the benefit of the disorganised majority. The majority - of businesses, workers and consumers - has benefited enormously as a result, a fact confirmed by any serious observer from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development down. Vested interests - incumbent companies and their unions - have lost power, though some, such as Telstra and Qantas, have hung onto much of it because they have somehow escaped the full force of competition.

Aviation is a microcosm in the unfinished business of competitive reform. Federal and state governments have failed to complete the job of building competitive markets in energy, water, aviation, telcos and communications, transport, education and health, to name a few, and the country, despite the impressive gains of the past two decades, is billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs poorer as a result. The Council of Australian Governments has a plausible plan to remedy this - the National Reform Initiative - but progress is too slow and getting the federal government to commit is a struggle.

Mr Costello can boost his credentials as a future leader of the nation by putting his shoulder to the wheel and leading the process of national reform instead of sniping from the sidelines, as he has been too prone to do. And he can start by using the foreign investment approvals process to persuade Nationals leader Mark Vaile and Prime Minister John Howard to take on Qantas and its co-conspirators and give us the open-skies aviation policy, with unfettered competition from international carriers, that we desperately need.

Only this week the Tourism Futures conference in Melbourne heard that the strong dollar was sending Australians overseas in droves, while keeping foreign visitors away. There is not much we can do about the dollar but the government could boost inbound traffic at the stroke of a pen by admitting more carriers to more international routes, especially across the Pacific. There, stockbrokers estimate Qantas has a price premium of at least a fifth as a direct consequence of the lack of competition.

Increasing competition would open up more seats and more routes, generate more traffic and reduce prices. Singapore Airlines claims opening up the Pacific route would boost arrivals from the United States by 4 per cent to 8 per cent. Other studies of liberalised markets have produced higher figures. Emirates wants to double its services from Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth - cities ill-served by Qantas - as well as Sydney to Dubai and on to points in Europe that Qantas doesn't service.

Qantas remains a protected species because it has succeeded in misting up the eyes and heads of populist politicians. But Macquarie Bank and its fellow bidders take a hard-nosed view of a business and should have factored more competition from substantial foreign carriers into their calculations. If Mr Costello can succeed in dismantling the aviation racket, he will be in a much better position to lecture the states on their rigged markets for energy, water and transport. The country will be much better off, and he will look more like a future prime minister.
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Old December 14th, 2006, 04:52 AM   #473
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Onex says to invest C$404 million in Qantas offer

MONTREAL, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Onex Corp. said on Wednesday it would invest C$404 million ($348 million) as part of the C$10.2 billion ($8.7 billion) offer made by the Airline Partners Australia consortium to acquire Qantas Airways Ltd. .

Onex, a Canadian conglomerate, said it has a 12.5 percent interest in Airline Partners Australia, which includes Allco Equity Partners , Allco Finance Group , Macquarie Bank , Texas Pacific Group and certain other investors.

Qantas, Australia's largest airline, agreed to the sweetened offer from the group, which is led by Macquarie Bank.

The offer is subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approval and acceptance by 90 percent of the Qantas shareholders. The offer is expected to be mailed to Qantas shareholders in January or early February, Onex said.

($1=$1.16 Canadian)
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Old December 14th, 2006, 04:53 AM   #474
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Qantas Accepts $8.64B Takeover Offer
13 December 2006

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Qantas Airways said Thursday it had accepted an $8.64 billion (Australian dollars $11.1 billion) takeover offer from a private equity consortium including Australia's Macquarie Bank and the Texas Pacific Group.

Qantas Chairman Margaret Jackson said the board had unanimously agreed to recommend to shareholders that they accept the offer of 5.60 Australian dollars ($4.40) a share from the consortium.

The announcement follows Qantas rejection on Wednesday of the consortium's offer of 5.50 Australian dollars a share.

Jackson said in a statement the new offer included the removal of unacceptable conditions, including a break fee payable to the consortium if the deal fell through because of government regulations or a lack of shareholder support.

"It is a very momentous and exciting day for Qantas," Jackson said at a news conference later.

She said the bid price was 33 percent higher than Qantas shares were trading at before takeover speculation began in early November.

"The directors believe this offer allows Qantas shareholders to realize significant value for their shares that has not been fully recognized in the public market," she said.

The board's recommendation is subject to an opinion from an independent expert that the offer is fair and reasonable. Another condition is that 90 percent of Qantas shareholders must approve the deal, Qantas said.

Jackson said that under the deal, Qantas would remain Australian-owned.

Bob Mansfield, the director of the consortium, called Airline Partners Australia, said it supported Qantas' existing management and its plans for large capital expenditure.

"Qantas would retain the current Australian management and their growth strategy, a strategy that does not involve a break up of the airline, cuts to regional services or the movement of maintenance operations offshore," Mansfield said.

The Australian Stock Exchange had earlier suspended Qantas trading, at the request of the company. Qantas stock plunged 2.68 percent Wednesday to 5.09 Australian dollars on the rejection of the offer.

The consortium also includes Canada's Onex Corp. and Australia's Allco Finance Group and Allco Equity Partners Ltd.

The Australian government has said it will not block a takeover of Qantas so long as the deal meets the country's foreign-ownership and shareholder caps, set as part of the 1995 privatization of the Sydney-based airline.

The limits set foreign-ownership of Qantas at 49 percent, with each foreign individual allowed to hold a maximum 25 percent of shares. The bidding consortium said it plans to stay within those restrictions, with Onex and Texas Pacific Group together holding less than 40 percent.

The 86-year-old Qantas has suffered in recent years from soaring oil prices, but remains one of the few profitable global carriers amid stiff competition and widespread fear among travelers of terrorist attacks and health risks such as SARS and bird flu.
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Old December 15th, 2006, 03:56 AM   #475
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Qantas buyers move to sooth fears over record takeover

SYDNEY, Dec 15, 2006 (AFP) - The private buyers of Australia's flag carrier Qantas on Friday insisted they were not corporate raiders, as jitters mounted a day after one of the biggest airline takeovers in history was unveiled.

The private equity group that Thursday sealed a deal to buy the national icon for 11.1 billion dollars (8.7 billion US) responded to growing concerns from trade unions and politicians by saying it was not seeking quick profits and would expand the airline.

While the consortium agreed to pay 33 percent more than the value of Qantas shares six weeks ago and will have to borrow heavily to finance the deal, the group's head Bob Mansfield said it was looking to lower its debt.

Airline Partners Australia consortium director Mansfield said the consortium had the airline experience necessary to help Qantas grow and repeated pledges the airline would not seek to lay off staff or shift services abroad.

"It's debt that hasn't been looked at lightly by the consortium and the experience of the consortium in the airline industry is critical," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We matched up our debt package and the structure involved and we matched that with (chief executive Geoff Dixon's) management team's view of the future. We believe it's an exciting picture for Qantas to grow," he said.

But workers' unions and politicians sounded a more cautious note as Australia's public digested the news that its "Flying Kangaroo" icon would be partly in the hands of foreign private equity groups.

Prime Minister John Howard insisted Friday it was important that the sale of Qantas did not result in the carrier's interests being compromised.

"It's very important that we don't needlessly bargain away the interests that our national carrier has," Howard told the ABC.

"I hope the Qantas we have is the Qantas we keep because it's a very popular airline and it's a quite an icon and I think its new owners will be very conscious of that," he added.

Kevin Rudd, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, which is seeking guarantees over job security and the airline's national security role, on Friday said he was also worried about the airline's future viability.

"It's a very competitive business worldwide, but subject to huge external shocks," Rudd told the Seven Network television.

"How does a company cope when those big things happen and (it is) loaded up with debt," he said.

Rudd also said the national airline should remain available to handle threats and evacuations linked to national security or the outbreak of communicable diseases.

Qantas CEO Dixon meanwhile rebuffed a called by the Transport Workers Union for the new Qantas board to offer a written guarantee of jobs, rates of pay and entitlements to all existing Qantas workers.

The consortium has vowed to maintain Qantas's immaculate safety record, push ahead with a 10-billion-dollar investment in 70 new aircraft over the next five years to increase capacity by 40 percent, expand its overseas services and maintain domestic routes.

The airline, which remains one of the world's most profitable for its size, is subject to a 49 percent ceiling on foreign ownership and a 25 percent limit on any single foreign share holding.
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Old December 17th, 2006, 05:01 PM   #476
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Sunday December 17, 5:59 PM
Cashed-up Qantas to look for Asian growth after takeover: analysts

SYDNEY (AFP) - Qantas is poised for aggressive international expansion, particularly in Asia, if its takeover clears regulatory hurdles and the bidders prove they are not corporate raiders, analysts have said.

Private equity consortium Airline Partners Australia (APA) will seal one of the largest takeovers in aviation history if its 11.1-billion-dollar (8.7 billion US) bid proceeds after winning support from the Qantas board last week.

While board members were won over by a package that includes generous remuneration for top executives, misgivings remain in Australia about the bidders' intentions and the prospect of a national icon being controlled by an international consortium.

APA has repeatedly stressed that Qantas will remained Australian-controlled under the consortium, with offshore investors including US-based Texas Pacific Group and Canada's Onex representing less that 40 percent of the group.

APA spokesman Bob Mansfield has also denied the consortium would adopt the smash-and-grab tactics typically associated with private equity takeovers, ruling out a Qantas break-up and cuts to regional services.

Instead, Mansfield says APA will remain involved with Qantas for five to 10 years, pressing on with the airline's existing plan to spend 10 billion dollars on 70 new aircraft to increase capacity by 40 percent over the next five years.

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation managing director Peter Harbison said that if the pledges were met, Qantas would be well placed to meet the challenges of an increasingly-deregulated international aviation market.

While Qantas remains one of the world's most profitable airlines, Harbison said it could perform even better if it was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange and placed in the hands of owners ready to make long-term investments.

"As a listed company in a small country at the end of the world, Qantas was not previously well-placed to survive, once global markets deregulated," he said, adding "the new ownership can go where the public company could not".

Harbison predicted the new owners would use Qantas' low-cost offshoot Jetstar as the vehicle for growth because it has lower cost and labour overheads than the main airline.

"As soon as the transaction is completed, it will not be surprising to see an acquisition-oriented Qantas begin moving into new Asian markets," he said.

"It is already represented in Singapore with Jetstar Asia. This model, along with direct minority acquisitions in existing airlines, either by Qantas directly, or by its new owners, will allow it to develop a serious foothold in such markets as China, India, Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia.

"In this way, the Qantas/Jetstar brand will become ubiquitous in Asia."

Prime Minister John Howard has made it clear the Australian government will be closely watching the transaction, pointing out the strong association voters feel for the airline dubbed "the flying kangaroo".

The Foreign Investment Review Board will check that offshore investors hold less than 49 percent of the airline, with no individual foreign company allowed to have more than 25 percent.

The competition regulator will also investigate whether there are anti-trust issues surrounding Australian investment bank Macquarie's involvement in the consortium, as it also owns Sydney Airport.

But Credit Suisse analysts described the regulatory hurdles as "non-issues" in a note to clients, saying the deal had been structured to meet all government requirements.

They said the 5.60-dollar-a-share offer, increased from an initial 5.50, was well above their 4.71 valuation of the Qantas stock and "concluded we would view favourably shareholders accepting the consortium's offer".

Credit Suisse said there was little prospect of a rival bid emerging because of the complexity of Qantas' ownership restrictions.
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Old December 18th, 2006, 08:06 AM   #477
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Australia's Virgin Blue sees year profit up 40 pct

SYDNEY, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. , Australia's second-biggest airline, said its full-year profit would be 40 percent above last year on better market conditions, and said it would accelerate plans to expand its international operations.

The company said on Wednesday it expects profit after tax in the year to June 2007 to exceed A$158 million ($124 million), up from the corresponding period result of A$113 million.

"The revised forecast follows an improvement in market conditions and the airline's performance as a result of initiatives under its new world carrier strategy launched last year," Virgin Blue said in a statement.

The company has about one-third of Australia's domestic aviation market and competes against Qantas Airways Ltd. and its budget carrier Jetstar.

Virgin Blue also said it would speed up plans to expand its international operations after the board gave its in principle support.

"Subject to conditions such as regulatory approval, the granting of adequate bilateral access and conclusion of aircraft negotiations, the airline expects to launch international long haul operations by late 2008," it said.

More details will be provided at Virgin Blue's half-year results in February.

The carrier has changed its year-end accounting period to June 30 from Sept. 30 after Toll Holdings Ltd. bought majority owner Patrick Corp.

In August, Virgin Blue reported net profit for the nine months ended June 30 at A$84.5 million.

Shares in Virgin Blue closed at A$2.15 on Tuesday. The stock hit a year-high of A$2.22 earlier this month after rival Qantas confirmed it had been approached by a private equity consortium. ($1=A$1.27)
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Old December 19th, 2006, 09:27 AM   #478
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There was talk that the QF pilots may move to block the sale of the airline by each investing $50,000 in the company?
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Old December 20th, 2006, 03:45 AM   #479
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They can't block it on their own because the combines ownership by the pilots would still only be 1%.
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Old December 20th, 2006, 03:53 AM   #480
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That would be a very aggressive and expensive takeover when 1% goes to 51% or more.
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