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Old February 18th, 2009, 10:38 AM   #621
marki
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More Bad News ...

----------------------
Virgin Blue vulnerable to takeover, says Regional Express
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/s...6-3102,00.html
Courier Mail, February 18, 2009 01:15pm

DOMESTIC airline Regional Express says the battling Queensland-based Virgin Blue is extremely vulnerable to a takeover bid - either hostile or friendly.
Speaking to investors at the company's first half results briefing, Rex chairman Kim Hai Lim said Virgin Blue was a takeover target.
"Virgin's shareholdings have been extremely fragmented, which means that Virgin is now extremely vulnerable to a takeover bid, whether hostile or friendly," Mr Lim said.
Mr Lim said Rex had purchased a parcel of Virgin Blue shares so it could have some influence over the future of the company.
"We purchased a block of Virgin shares," he said.
"We were hoping that we could take a small strategic interest so we could have some small influence as to the future of Virgin.
"Virgin does have an impact on regional aviation and it has already entered some of our markets.
"So we felt it was in our strategic interest.
"Also we do feel there is a certain undervaluation of Virgin shares."
Rex had 19.1 million Virgin Blue shares as at December 31, equating to about 1.82 per cent of the stock.
The Singaporean investors behind Rex hold about a 55 per cent stake in the carrier are also said to be quietly building up their stake in Virgin Blue.
Budget airline Virgin Blue announced yesterday 400 jobs would be affected when it axes as many as five aircraft from its local fleet, although it was too early to say whether these would include redundancies.

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Old February 18th, 2009, 10:44 AM   #622
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Another take on this story

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Airlines set to ground flights, jobs
Brisbane Times, Mathew Murphy | February 18, 2009 - 5:47AM
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news...632803959.html


AS MANY as 400 jobs could go at Australia's second largest airline, Virgin Blue, after it revealed plans to ground up to five aircraft in response to the global economic slump.
Qantas has also announced cuts to its international services, and Australians have been warned of an end to heavily-discounted domestic fares as the aviation industry braces for a massive downturn.
In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday, Virgin Blue said it would take up to five aircraft out of service in the 2009-10 financial year and use them as operational spares.
The decision will reduce the airline's capacity by about 8 per cent and affect up to 400 full-time equivalent positions. However, Virgin says it will consider transferring staff to its new long-haul carrier, V Australia, offering part-time work, job sharing and leave without pay.
Managers across the company are being asked to look at the scope for staff cuts. But it is believed that Virgin will not withdraw from any routes completely as part of the reduction.
In a memo to staff yesterday, Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey said the airline would move into "safe and secure mode" for the next two years. He said he was not pessimistic but pragmatic about the downturn in the aviation industry.
In December, Mr Godfrey warned staff that the airline was carrying too many employees but advised against listening to "media speculation" on job cuts.
Yesterday's announcement came after Mr Godfrey warned on Monday that a reduction in capacity could see the end of the heavily-discounted fares.
"At the moment we're very happy to discount, but the discounted fares out there will be difficult to sustain with the level of capacity that we have," he said. "We will be doing what we can to see if we can even it up in average fares through taking some capacity out."
Potentially adding to its woes, Virgin's new international carrier, V Australia, will take off on its first commercial flight next week, flying into one of the roughest periods in aviation.
The drop-off in business travel has led Qantas to cut its services into China and to relaunch its domestic operations in New Zealand using its budget carrier Jetstar.
Qantas' Melbourne-to-Shanghai and Sydney-to-Beijing services will be cut within months following a 20 per cent decline in business travel since October. A new daily service from Sydney to Shanghai, to begin from March 31, will aim to pick up the leftover demand. Qantas has also scrapped direct flights from Australia to Mumbai from May, with India-bound flights now to depart from Singapore.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told The Age that the company's New Zealand domestic services would be transferred to its discount carrier Jetstar from June 10 in a bid to lower costs and provide cheaper fares.
"We were seeing our performance as a loss-making exercise in the domestic New Zealand market," Mr Joyce said.
"There have been occasions where we have dipped into profits just to keep it running," he said.
"We felt the best way of making a return and the best way of being very competitive in that market was to focus on Jetstar rather then share the market with Qantas.
"The Jetstar experience has worked on Christchurch to Australia. Qantas was underperforming on that route and now Jetstar is performing very well on it," Mr Joyce said.
The news from the Australian airlines came a day after Singapore Airlines confirmed it would cut capacity by 11 per cent from April. It will also decommission 17 planes.
Qantas shares closed at a year low, down 9.5, or over 5 per cent, to $1.765. Virgin Blue shares dipped 1 to 24.5
TURBULENT TIMES
■Virgin Blue to ground up to five aircraft
■Qantas to cut back international routes
■Singapore Airlines to retire planes and cut capacity
■Australians warned to expect fewer heavily-discounted fares
With AAP


Budget carrier Virgin Blue will cut five planes from its fleet, a move that will impact on up to 400 jobs.
Photo: AFP

----------------------

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Old February 18th, 2009, 10:53 AM   #623
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but thats not all, Queensland seems to be running out of airlines.

Its been a bad couple of weeks for Queensland aviation.


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Another Brisbane-based airline sheds jobs
Brisbane Times, Melissa Singer | February 18, 2009 - 12:57PM
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queensland/another-brisbanebased-airline-sheds-jobs/2009/02/18/1234632871362.html

Brisbane-based regional airline SkyAirWorld will shed 40 jobs and ground three aircraft as the company confronts the slowdown in the travel industry.
The airline confirmed this morning it had let go staff from its Brisbane base and closed its Cairns base, which serviced the Brisbane-Cairns-Cloncurry route.
The Cairns redundancies follow the airline's decision on February 6 to cease operating the north Queensland route after some of SkyAirWorld's key clients in the mining industry could not guarantee ongoing business.
A statement from SkyAirWorld, which also operates services to the Solomon Islands, said the airline was forced to act now to safeguard the company against the prolonged impact of the global economic crisis.
"With regret, this has lead to redundancies - a step that SkyAirWorld has made every effort to avoid," the statement read.
"This decision has not been made lightly and has been necessitated as a result of the world wide economic downturn and a need for restructuring of our core operations."
The redundancies will affect all departments of the company, a SkyAirWorld spokeswoman said.
She said the company previously had 100 staff and five aircraft.
SkyAirWorld CEO David Charlton said the company would assist staff members affected by the redundancies where possible.
"This action, though regrettable, is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of our organisation," he said.
Cairns Chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Blockie said the closure of the Cairns base, which opened in September, was unfortunate.
"To have it so quickly cut back was disappointing," he said.
The SkyAirWorld job losses follow yesterday's news budget airline Virgin Blue would shed 400 jobs and ground five aircraft.
CEO Brett Godfrey said some staff would be redeployed to Virgin's new international arm, V Australia, which launches flights to the US this month.
Mr Godfrey said the grounding of the aircraft may affect Virgin Blue's future ability to offer heavily discounted fares on some routes.
Last month, MacAir, which serviced outback Queensland, went into voluntary administration and receivership before winding up on February 6 with the loss of 180 jobs.
SkyTrans took over services to the Gulf previously operated by MacAir, under one of three emergency contracts awarded by the State Government.
QantasLink and WestWing will commence services to other areas early in March.
Tenders for a long-term contract for the Gulf routes will be finalised later in the year.
SkyAirWorld plans to launch new services from Perth to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in April.
With AAP

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Old February 19th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #624
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It's time for good news now.

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Qantas to Increase Los Angeles Flights

Qantas will add one more Airbus A380 flight between Los Angeles and Australia later this year.

The carrier currently operates five Los Angeles flights to Australia, but as of June 9 will add one more to the mix.

John Borghetti, executive general manager at Qantas, said: "The response from our customers has reaffirmed what we set out to achieve with the aircraft - to create a designer aircraft which exceeded our customers' expectations when it comes to comfort and functionality."

The Australian carrier first launched its A380 aircraft in October 2008. Since then, it has served 50,000 passengers.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 08:52 PM   #625
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Melbourne defies downward aviation trends
21 February 2009
The Age

MORE than 20,000 extra international passengers flew through Melbourne Airport in January compared with the same time last year, showing the state is standing strong against the downturn in the international market.

The news is a bright spot for the industry in a week in which Qantas exited a number of services to China and its direct service to India, and Virgin Blue flagged the possibility of cutting up to 400 jobs.

Results released yesterday by Macquarie Airports, majority owner of Sydney Airport, showed that international traffic fell 3.4 per cent in January compared with the same time last year. August was the last month in which Sydney Airport recorded positive growth in the international market. Melbourne Airport, boosted by two weeks of Australian Open tennis in January, recorded a 4.5 per cent increase in international traffic compared to the same time last year. The figure marks 27 consecutive months of international passenger growth for Melbourne.

Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff said the result was heartening in the current economic climate and that the extra seats and more direct services being put into Victoria were being taken up.

"Demand for international air services to and from Melbourne has always been above supply and Melbourne passengers have had to use Sydney as an international entry and exit airport. More airlines are now serving Melbourne directly and more passengers are using these services," he said.

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Qantas' long-term credit rating following a "sharp fall-off in consumer demand for air travel".

Some analysts had speculated that Qantas would slip from Baa1 to Baa2 once Moody's started its review in November, which eventuated despite the airline announcing capacity reductions, reallocating routes between Qantas and Jetstar and detailing plans to raise $500million in equity. "Rapid deceleration in consumer demand for air travel, especially premium and business travel, as a result of the global economic crisis, has been particularly noticeable since late 2008 and is likely to be a principal contributor to reduced earnings for the year ahead and beyond, depending upon the severity and duration of the current downturn", said Moody's vice-president Ian Lewis.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the confirmation of an investment grade credit rating and stable outlook confirmed the strength of the airline.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 06:29 PM   #626
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A380 Problems for Qantas

I would have thought, with all the sophisticated techology advances of the
A380, that they could at least have fixed the hole in the bottom of the fuel tanks .

Mark.

Qantas grounds A380 superjumbos
Brisbane Times, March 3, 2009 - 1:38PM
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/travel/qantas-grounds-a380-superjumbos/2009/03/03/1235842392589.html


All three of Qantas's much-hyped A380 aircraft have been grounded over the past four days due to recurring problems with the plane's fuel tank systems.

Qantas was forced to declare one of the aircraft "unserviceable" last night, after scores of passengers had waited more than 12 hours for a fuel leak to be repaired.

It has now emerged that the airline's other two A380 are grounded at Sydney airport after experiencing similar problems.

One is due to return to service at 5.40pm tonight and the other tomorrow.

The airline's flagship, the Nancy-Bird Walton, was delayed in Sydney for 19 hours on Saturday, before eventually being cleared to fly to London.

However, on arrival at Heathrow airport it was again found to be leaking fuel and experienced a nose wheel ground steering issue, being declared unserviceable.

A Qantas spokeswoman said it was natural to expect "the accessional shake down" with a new aircraft and the airline was working with airbus to resolve the issues.

"Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue and we hope to have the aircraft return to service very soon," the spokeswoman said.

"We are working very closely with airbus, but we remain committed to the A380, as the cornerstone of our new generation. We apologise to our customers."

Three Qantas A380 superjumbos grounded in recent days
Herald Sun, David Murray in London, March 03, 2009 12:00am
http://www.news.com.au/travel/story/...014090,00.html

QANTAS has been hit by a string of problems which have grounded all three of their flagship A380s in the past few days.
One of the planes was back in service this morning, but the other two were declared unserviceable with a fuel tank indication system problem, reports The Herald Sun.

"Qantas is an early customer of the A380 and naturally, as with any new aircraft type and like other operators of the A380, we expect the occasional issue to arise," the airline said in a statement.

"We are working very closely with Airbus to resolve these but we remain committed to the A380 as the cornerstone of our new generation product offering."

The airline's first superjumbo, the Nancy-Bird Walton, was initially delayed for 19 hours in Sydney on Saturday because of a fuel leak.

After repair work the much-heralded plane was cleared to fly the "kangaroo route" to Singapore then London.

In London, it was again found to be leaking fuel and experienced a nose wheel ground steering issue. The plane was declared "unserviceable" and had to be grounded.

The episode comes after Qantas grounded the same plane due to a "minor technical fault" at Los Angeles airport five weeks ago.

In the latest incident, the Nancy-Bird Walton was scheduled to fly from London to Melbourne as a one-off because of the initial delay in Sydney.

Passengers travelling to Melbourne on flight QF10 were delayed for more than 16 hours as a result of the dramas.

One passenger stranded in London told News Ltd: "Lots of people were really excited to be going on the new plane.

"Now basically they've cancelled the flight because there's a fuel leak.

"It's a worry because it's brand new and a fuel problem is pretty serious."

They eventually left London on a Boeing 747 at 2.24pm Monday, instead of the original departure time of 10pm Sunday.

A Qantas spokeswoman yesterday said repairs had been completed and the Nancy-Bird Walton departed London for Melbourne on flight QF10 at 11.25pm Monday local time (10.25am Tuesday Melbourne).

The other two A380s were grounded in Sydney and engineers were ``currently working to resolve this and we hope to have both aircraft returned to service very soon'', the airline said.

Of the two "unserviceable" A380s in Sydney, one was scheduled to be ready to operate QF31 Sydney-Singapore-London at 5.40pm today.

The other A380 was scheduled to be back in operation tomorrow.
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Old June 16th, 2009, 06:12 AM   #627
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Qantas To Operate Daily A380 Services To London & Los Angeles
June 16, 2009 11:01 AM
By Neville D-Cruz
Source: http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v5....php?id=418215

MELBOURNE, June 16 (Bernama) -- Qantas said it would operate daily A380 services from Sydney to both London and Los Angeles by November.

Until then and beginning on August 6, Qantas said it would increase its A380 services to London to five services a week, from three weekly departures; the carrier said it would also launch four daily services to Los Angeles, from three.

The increased frequency would follow delivery of a fourth A380 aircraft in late July, Qantas said in a statement.

The arrival of a fifth and sixth aircraft would allow Qantas to increase Melbourne-Los Angeles flights to three A380 per week, from two departures now.

Qantas also said it would expand its European and North American networks via code-share agreements with partner airlines Iberia and American Airlines.

-- BERNAMA
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Old June 19th, 2009, 03:17 PM   #628
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Qantas Introduced International Online Check-In And Advance Seat Selection

The FINANCIAL -- Qantas has introduced international online check-in and advance seat selection, expanding the range of services available to customers.

Qantas Group Executive Manager Customer and Marketing, Ms Lesley Grant, said the new services would ensure an enhanced travel experience for customers.

"The ability to check-in online for international travel means customers can check-in at their leisure between 24 hours and two hours before their flight from their home, office or hotel," Ms Grant said.

"Customers who check-in online will enjoy a faster airport experience with dedicated online check-in counters for bag drop and necessary visa checks.

"And we are rewarding our top tier Frequent Flyers, (Platinum, Gold and Silver) with even more choice - the ability to choose their seat online.

"Immediately after making a booking, whether at qantas.com or through other booking channels, eligible Frequent Flyers are now able to request their seat for international flights."

Ms Grant said the new services were testament to the Qantas Group s continued investment in customer product and services.

"Over the past few years, Qantas has invested significantly in new generation product both inflight and on the ground, including lounge refurbishments, the introduction of our fourth cabin, International Premium Economy, and the delivery of our A380s," she said.

"Our aim is to provide travellers with a wide range of services to ensure a seamless travel experience, and customers can expect to see even more enhancements to domestic and international customer services later in 2009."
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 02:12 PM   #629
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Qantas Flight From HK Encounters Severe Turbulence

By Iain McDonald
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU) said Monday that an Airbus A330-300 aircraft flying to Perth from Hong Kong encountered severe turbulence, injuring six passengers and one crew member.

The seven people were taken to hospital when the aircraft arrived in Perth but were later released.

"The aircraft most likely encountered what is known as convective turbulence, which led to it rapidly gaining around 800 feet in altitude before returning to its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet," said Qantas Group Executive Government and Corporate Affairs David Epstein.

"This convective turbulence is not normally visible to weather radar," he said.

Qantas reported the incident to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which will investigate.

The airline said there was no reason to link the incident to other recent in-flight incidents involving A330 aircraft.

There were 206 passengers and 13 flight and cabin crew on the aircraft, which hit the turbulence over Borneo, about four hours out of Hong Kong.

The flight captain reported minor damage to two overhead panels in the cabin and two oxygen masks were dislodged.

An A330 aircraft owned by Air France crashed into the Atlantic earlier this month on route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro with 228 people on board. The cause of that disaster is unknown.

-By Iain McDonald, Dow Jones Newswires; 61-2-8272-4681; [email protected]
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 02:15 PM   #630
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Qantas Airlines making big changes in LA, London, Sydney...we're talkintravel

Here's the latest form Qantas airlines...they are making big changes to the LA, London, and Sydney services, check in, and new jet purchases. Read on for the latest:

1. QANTAS TO INCREASE A380 SERVICES FROM LOS ANGELES AND LONDON TO SYDNEY LOS ANGELES, Jun. 17, 2009 - Qantas announced today it would increase its A380 services between Los Angeles and Sydney and London and Sydney (via Singapore) from August 6, 2009. Qantas Airways Senior Executive Vice President, The Americas and Pacific, Wally R. Mariani, A.M., said the airline would take delivery of three new aircraft before the end of the year.

"Our fourth A380 arrives at the end of July, allowing us to increase Los Angeles-Sydney services from three to four per week and Sydney-Singapore-London A380 services from three to five per week," Mr. Mariani said.
"The arrival of our fifth and sixth aircraft later in the year will mean further increases in services to these key destinations. "By November, Qantas will operate daily A380 services between Los Angeles and Sydney and will increase Los Angeles to Melbourne services from two to three A380 flights per week. "By the end of 2009, Qantas will operate 34 services per week between the U.S. and Australia and the UK and Australia with its A380 fleet." Mr. Mariani said that since Qantas launched A380 services in October 2008, the airline had carried more than 200,000 passengers onboard the flagship aircraft. "The Qantas A380 has received exceptional feedback from our customers, and has reaffirmed what we set out to achieve - the creation of a designer aircraft which exceeds customer expectations when it comes to comfort and functionality. We are pleased to be the only airline flying the A380 in the U.S. and to Australia," Mr. Mariani said. The Qantas A380 is configured with 450 seats across four classes:
--First class - 14 luxurious and spacious suites;
--Business class - 72 new fully-flat Skybed sleeper seats;
--Premium Economy class - 32 extra wide seats with greater recline and
--Economy class - 332 state-of-the-art seats styled by Marc Newson and manufactured by Recaro.

For more information about Qantas, visit the web site at qantas.com.
2. QANTAS TO EXPAND NORTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN NETWORKS LOS ANGELES, Jun. 18, 2009 - Qantas today announced it would further expand its North American and European networks via codeshares with oneworld partner airlines American Airlines and Iberia.
Qantas Airways Senior Executive Vice President, The Americas and Pacific, Wally R. Mariani, A.M., said Qantas and Iberia would work together for the first time, while Qantas and American Airlines would grow their existing codeshare relationship which had been in place since 1989. " From June 17, 2009 Qantas will codeshare on select American Airlines operated flights to Atlanta, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Detroit, Tampa, Cincinnati, New Orleans and Memphis, connecting with existing Qantas codeshare flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco via American Airlines' Dallas and Chicago hubs. " From July 15, 2009, Qantas will codeshare on Iberia services to Madrid via Frankfurt and London, while the Spanish carrier will place its code on Qantas services from Frankfurt and London to Sydney*. "These new codeshares with two of our oneworld alliance partners will provide Qantas customers with more travel options between North America, Europe and Australia," Mr. Mariani said.
"Qantas operates in its own right to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Honolulu," Mr. Mariani said. "Adding eight destinations in partnership with American Airlines will grow our North American network to 42 cities - 36 in the United States and six in Canada. "The new relationship with Iberia will complement our existing British Airways codeshare services to
Madrid from London and also offer customers an alternative routing via Frankfurt." Qantas currently operates up to 35 services per week between the U.K. and Germany and Australia, and with oneworld partners, offers codeshare connections to 23 destinations in the U.K. and Europe. Iberia will be offering flights to Australia under its own code on Qantas operated services for the first time. Qantas Frequent Flyer program members will be able to earn points on all of the new codeshare services. About Qantas: The Qantas A380 features aircraft interiors designed by internationally renowned industrial designer and Qantas Creative Director Marc Newson. Providing more than 40 flights per week from the U.S., Qantas offers more than 30 non-stop flights from Los Angeles (to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland), five from San Francisco, a daily direct service from JFK and three from Honolulu. A leader in in-flight entertainment, all Qantas mainland departures feature on demand video and audio selections for movies, TV programs, radio and games in all classes. For more information about Qantas, visit the web site at qantas.com. Subject to regulatory approval

3. QANTAS INTRODUCES INTERNATIONAL ONLINE CHECK-IN: LOS ANGELES, Jun. 22, 2009 - Qantas Airways has introduced international online check-in, expanding the range of services available to customers. Qantas Senior Executive Vice President, The Americas and Pacific, Wally R. Mariani, A.M., said the new check-in service would ensure an enhanced travel experience for customers. "The ability to check-in online for international travel means customers can check-in at their leisure between 24 hours and two hours before their flight from their home, office or hotel," Mr. Mariani said. "Customers who check-in online will enjoy a faster airport experience with dedicated online check-in counters for bag drop and necessary visa checks. Mr. Mariani said the new services were a testament to the Qantas Group's continued investment in customer product and services. "Over the past few years, Qantas has invested significantly in new generation product both inflight and on the ground, including lounge refurbishments, the introduction of our fourth cabin -International Premium Economy - and the delivery of our A380s," he said.
"Our aim is to provide travelers with a wide range of services to ensure a seamless travel experience, and customers can expect to see even more enhancements to domestic and international customer services later in 2009."
About Qantas
Qantas is the only airline providing Airbus A380 services to the U.S. and to Australia. The Qantas A380 features aircraft interiors designed by internationally renowned industrial designer and Qantas Creative Director Marc Newson. Providing more than 40 flights per week from the U.S., Qantas offers more than 30 non-stop flights from Los Angeles (to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland), five from San Francisco, a daily direct service from JFK and three from Honolulu. A leader in in-flight entertainment, all Qantas mainland departures feature on demand video and audio selections for movies, TV programs, radio and games in all classes.
For more info: www.qantas.com http://tinyurl.com/talkintravel
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Old June 24th, 2009, 12:14 PM   #631
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Jetstar launches new New Zealand services

By Siva Govindasamy

Jetstar, Australian carrier Qantas' low-cost subsidiary, has launched a Wellington-Christchurch service in New Zealand and introduced additional Auckland-Wellington and Auckland-Christchurch services in the country.

In addition to the new once-daily Wellington-Christchurch service, Jetstar has increased the Auckland-Wellington service to three times daily and Auckland-Christchurch to six times daily.

The airline, which took over the New Zealand domestic operations from Qantas on 10 June, says that the addition of a third Airbus A320 aircraft into the country has made the services possible and allowed the airline to introduce a new schedule with better timings.

"The introduction of a third A320 aircraft into our domestic New Zealand fleet has provided the appropriate opportunity to introduce a more refined schedule across our network," says Bruce Buchanan, Jetstar's chief executive.

"Importantly, this includes better timed services, more time buffers throughout the operating day to recover from weather related delays, and longer block and turn times in the respective Wellington and Queenstown markets."

Jetstar offers 84 weekly return services between Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown, and 42 weekly flights across the Tasman Sea from Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand. A Qantas code share is offered on all Jetstar domestic and trans-Tasman New Zealand services, says the airline.


http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...-services.html
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Old June 24th, 2009, 06:02 PM   #632
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Qantas may buy some time after Boeing setback
25 June 2009
The Advertiser

BOEING'S sudden decision yesterday to cancel the first flight of its controversial 787 Dreamliner and delay deliveries for a fifth time, could be a gift to Qantas bean counters.

It allows Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce to shore up the carrier's balance sheet by deferring $3.1 billion in fleet replacement costs.

The carbon fibre jetliner was pulled off the flight line at Everett assembly plant near Seattle on Tuesday after structural faults were found on a wing when it was bent and stress-tested.

Last night aviation sources suggested the new delay could put back the first 787 deliveries beyond 2011.

The first 15 787s, costing about $212 million each, are earmarked for Jetstar and are due to arrive in staged deliveries over 15 months.

Until yesterday, the first jet was due in Sydney next May. It was to be used to open up new routes into north Asia.

Qantas is Boeing's biggest 787 customer, with 65 firm orders as well as taking options and purchase rights over another 50 aircraft.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 06:03 PM   #633
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Brisbane's misty, moisty morning planely bad for travellers
25 June 2009
The Courier-Mail

HEAVY fog at Brisbane Airport caused a knock-on effect around the nation yesterday, as flights were delayed and diverted.

The fog settled over the city about 12.30am and had lifted by about 7am. Two hours later a second fog bank was blown in from the west, lifting about an hour later.

Weather bureau forecaster Chris Joseph said that while it was ``an unusual event'', there was a chance of fog again this morning.

Brisbane Airport spokesman Jim Carden said one international flight was diverted to Noumea, one to Sydney and two to the Gold Coast. A further five flights were put in a holding pattern and two domestic flights were diverted. ``It took a couple of hours for the schedule to come back into alignment and it affected networks across the country, which is pretty normal for this time of year,'' he said.

``We get fog-bound six to 10 times a year, which isn't much compared with some airports around the world.''

Mr Joseph said extremely high moisture levels after days of wet weather, a low inversion level, light winds and clear skies provided perfect conditions for fog.

``This caused the suspension of small water droplets in the air, reducing visibility to less than 1km,'' Mr Joseph said.

``Basically what happens is that moisture is trapped under the inversion layer. The air then becomes totally saturated.''
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Old June 24th, 2009, 06:04 PM   #634
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AUSTRALIA'S MACQUARIE AIRPORTS INCREASES STAKE IN SYDNEY AIRPORT

SYDNEY, June 24 Asia Pulse - Australia's Macquarie Airports (ASX:MAP) has increased its stake in Sydney Airport to 74 per cent through its cash payment to help reduce the airport's debt.

Macquarie Airports paid $A711 million ($US564.61 million) as Sydney Airport shareholders paid a total $870 million to retire debt maturing this September and November, the Sydney-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sydney Airport's net senior debt is now $4.6 billion with no material maturities till September 2011.

Based on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $657 million for the 12 months to March 31, the net debt to EBITDA ratio is seven times.

Sydney Airport's EBITDA grew 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2009.

Macquarie Airports' cash balance stood at $766 million, before taking into account the expected proceeds from the coming tender of the company's interest in Japan Airport Terminal.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 06:05 PM   #635
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Sky's the limit: airline tipped to quit US route
24 June 2009
The Sydney Morning Herald

THE battle on Australia-US flight paths intensifies next week when the US carrier Delta Air Lines begins flights. But analysts are already tipping that one carrier will give up the fight.

A UBS analyst, Simon Mitchell, believes either one of the two new entrants Delta and Virgin Blue's long-haul carrier, V Australia or United Airlines could be forced off the route due to the intense competition. He believes the most likely to quit will be United, because of an "inferior product and less network pull".

However, many industry insiders question Delta's commitment to the route. It is due to begin daily services between Sydney and Los Angeles on July 3.

Either way, the competition poses a big challenge to Qantas.

UBS expects the Qantas brand's contribution to group earnings to fall from $1 billion in 2008-09 to $700 million this financial year, due partly to the competition on the trans-Pacific route. Furthermore, the broker estimates pre-tax contributions from the route to fall from $350 million to just $100 million.

The route is of utmost importance to Qantas. UBS calculates that the route represents about 18 per cent of the Qantas brand's capacity but accounts for about 30 per cent of revenue. Furthermore, most fares on the route have been priced at a 20-30 per cent premium to Qantas's European services.

UBS believes the ratings agency Standard & Poor's could downgrade Qantas a further notch, to BBB- until, 2010-11.

S&P lowered its credit rating for the airline from BBB+ to to BBB in April, to leave it two notches above junk status. Qantas's investment-grade credit rating is crucial to finance its operations, including its fleet upgrade, at a lower cost than other carriers.

Shares in Qantas fell 10c to $1.91 yesterday, taking the stock's decline to 16 per cent over the past two weeks.

Safety first

National Australia Bank's $825 million purchase of Aviva Australia has been largely welcomed by analysts as a solid, safe but somewhat unspectacular first-time acquisition for the bank's new boss, Cameron Clyne.

To that end, bulking up in life insurance and wealth management in Australia carries neither the same risks nor the possible downsides of buying businesses abroad, where NAB hardly has an enviable record.

This is why banking research teams at Citi, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS back the deal, although some consider NAB's earnings target for the integrated business could be a bit of a stretch.

Of equal interest is the likely fall-out from the deal for both NAB and its rival ANZ.

An RBS analyst, Jarrod Martin, believes investors' focus on the bank's performance will switch to its British banking subsidiaries and their position within the troubled British economy, as well as the group's exposure to collateralised debt obligations, which have already led to large write-downs. Because of their threat to the bank's earnings, this is why RBS has maintained its "sell" recommendation on NAB.

As for ANZ, the Aviva purchase has reduced even further its options to increase its position in wealth management domestically. Unlike the other big four banks, it does not have a wholly owned "big beast" player in the market such as Commonwealth's Colonial or Westpac's BT.

A Citi analyst, Craig Williams, has concluded that this only highlights the need for ANZ to pull off its Asian expansion plans the one area where the bank has sought to get ahead of its rivals.

Waiting to take wing

AirAsia X's ambitions of flying between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur are resting on approval from the Malaysian Government.

The Malaysian budget airline has long harboured hopes of making Sydney its fourth destination in Australia.

It already operates daily services to Kuala Lumpur from Melbourne and Perth and four a week from the Gold Coast. The airline's chief executive, Azran Osman-Rani, said the carrier already had Australian approval to fly the Sydney-Kuala Lumpur route but was awaiting approval from Malaysian authorities.

"It's something we want to do. We have yet to be able to get Malaysian Government approval to be able to do so," he told Xchange.

The central concern for authorities will be AirAsia X flying on the same route as the government-owned Malaysia Airlines. AirAsia X sought approval last year in Malaysia but Mr Osman-Rani said he could not say when a decision was likely.

But he dismissed outright industry chatter that the no-frills carrier might enter the Australian domestic market.

This should not be too much of a surprise because Richard Branson, the largest shareholder in Virgin Blue, has a 20 per cent stake in AirAsia X.

Lesson for Lend Lease

An investigation into Lend Lease's billing practices in the US has cost it a $US72 million ($90 million) contract to build a New York high school.

The property group is understood to have lost the project in Brooklyn for failing to reveal that it was the focus of the criminal inquiry.

If the case is lost, Lend Lease's project arm, Bovis, is likely to lose any hope of winning any more US Government development projects.

This month it was revealed that a former Bovis vice-president was under investigation by the US Federal Attorney for allegedly over-billing on a number of projects, including the September 11 memorial site.

Lend Lease shares slumped 21c to $6.96 yesterday. A final dividend of 34c will be paid on Friday.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 10:25 AM   #636
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Virgin Blue: May Domestic Passengers Up 0.4% On Year
28 June 2009

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA.AU) Monday said domestic passenger numbers on its aircraft increased 0.4% in May on-year.

Traffic, measured by revenue passenger kilometers, increased 2.6%, and capacity, measured by available seat kilometers, fell 3.8%.

Revenue load factor rose 4.8 points and international passenger numbers increased 52.4%.

For the 11 months to May 31, Virgin Blue said its revenue load factor increased by 0.1 of a point to 81.4%, with domestic passenger numbers up 5.1%.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #637
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Air NZ May Sue Qantas Over Strike By Engineers
June 29, 2009 13:20 PM

MELBOURNE, June 29 (Bernama) -- Air New Zealand is threatening to sue Qantas to recover millions of dollars in costs incurred last year when engineers belonging to the latter, went on wild-cat strikes, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The 10-week stand-off between Qantas and its licenced aircraft engineers ended last July but its impact was felt for months afterwards because of the backlog of work it created, the newspaper said.

The industrial dispute caused many Qantas flight cancellations and scheduling problems over several months.

Air New Zealand, one of Qantas' biggest customers, had to relocate some engineers to Australia for more than eight months to work on its aircraft, because of the dispute.

Air New Zealand's Australian general manager, John Harrison, told the newspaper the airline would make a final decision on whether to take legal action against Qantas within the next week.

Although Air New Zealand was exempt from paying some of the charges under its engineering contract with Qantas, it did not cover the total cost of relocating engineers, which included paying allowances and accommodating them here.

The Herald understands the costs involved millions of dollars.

-- BERNAMA

- http://bernama.com.my/bernama/v5/new....php?id=421497
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Old June 29th, 2009, 11:23 AM   #638
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Air NZ Drops Qantas For Engineering Work In Sydney, Melbourne
28 June 2009

WELLINGTON (Dow Jones)--Air New Zealand Ltd. (AIR.NZ) said Monday was replacing Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU) for engineering work in Sydney and Melbourne following disruptive wildcat strikes last year.

Air New Zealand's general manager for Australia, John Harrison, told Dow Jones Newswires that the New Zealand carrier was 'transitioning' its line maintenance contract in Sydney to Cathay Pacific. (0293.HK) and in Melbourne it was contracting John Holland Group Pty Ltd., a unit of Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI.AU).

He said the company was also seeking to recover costs incurred when the Australian carrier's engineers held strikes last year, but he downplayed an earlier media report that it was threatening to sue Qantas, saying that while legal options, as always, remained open, the talks were 'amicable'.

Another Air New Zealand executive said the suggestion in the Sydney Morning Herald report that cost recovery would be in the millions of dollars was 'over the top.'
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Old June 30th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #639
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Qantas struggles but its Jetstar shines
1 July 2009
The Age

QANTAS budget offshoot Jetstar continues to provide a silver lining for its troubled parent on international routes, according to monthly traffic and capacity statistics for May.

Qantas carried 527,000 passengers on international routes for the month, 14.5 per cent lower than last year and 10.4 per cent down for the year to date.

But Jetstar passenger numbers for May were up 51 per cent on last year at 204,000, and up 30.7 per cent for the year to date on its international routes.

The only blot on Jetstar's expanding copybook appears to be its new domestic service in New Zealand.

Since launching the service on June 10, it has suffered many calamities, from delayed flights to cancellations because it does not have the right navigational aids to ride Queenstown's bad weather. It has refused to board passengers because they did not know they had to book in at least 30 minutes before departure and has suffered ground handling mishaps.

Last weekend it stranded New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Queenstown after he opened the winter festival. He had to be flown home by the national carrier Air New Zealand, which flies any stranded Jetstar passenger home for NZ$50 ($A40).

Jetstar's arrival in New Zealand has created a fare bloodbath. Many passengers have vented their spleen about Jetstar on blog sites and media outlets - some calling the carrier "the great roo screw".

Virgin Blue budget offshoot Pacific Blue has also weighed in with predatory pricing and route changes. But Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan has said repeatedly the carrier is in New Zealand for the long haul after Qantas pulled the plug on domestic operations last month.

The May statistics show QantasLink passenger numbers were down 0.1 per cent to 342,000 for the month and down 2.1 per cent for the year to May, while Qantas domestic numbers for May were down 4.7 per cent to 1.3 million.

Across the fleet, passenger numbers were down in May by 2.8 per cent compared with the previous year. Yields (excluding foreign exchange) took a 4.7 per cent hit on domestic routes and a 2.6 per cent hit on international routes compared with May last year.
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Old July 4th, 2009, 06:48 PM   #640
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Fare war two new carriers crowd out the skies
3 July 2009
The Sydney Morning Herald

A boon for customers is turning into a bloodbath for airlines, reports Matt O'Sullivan.

THEY have been two of Qantas's most profitable routes but the combination of slumping demand, the cheapest fares in decades, and the arrival of two new carriers today have created a discount war on the Sydney-Melbourne and Australia-US routes.

The fight for survival is symptomatic of a crisis gripping the global industry that threatens to bankrupt airlines and end the days of cheap fares. A peak international airline body recently forecast an almost doubling in industry losses to $US9 billion ($11.2 billion) this year. In short, passengers' short-term gain is airlines' long-term pain.

Today, Tiger Airways aircraft will depart Sydney Airport's domestic T2 terminal for the first time bound for Melbourne, ending the cosy duopoly between Qantas and Virgin Blue on the so-called "golden run" since the collapse of Ansett in 2001.

It will be the same story at the international terminal where Delta Air Lines launches daily services to Los Angeles taking the number of carriers on the route to four, including Qantas, United Airlines and Virgin's long-haul carrier, V Australia.

At the same time airlines worldwide are slashing fares to entice people to fly. On the Australia-US route, prices have more than halved in a year. That is great news for consumers but it means airlines are fast approaching a day when they will be unable to sustain the losses.

Apart from shedding flights and staff, it leaves airline executives desperate to form relationships with other carriers such as via code-share or revenue-sharing agreements to ease the burden.

At first blush, the arrival of Delta and Tiger could indicate optimism but industry officials believe it is more likely a desperate play to find alternative routes on which to run under-used aircraft.

"Whenever there are two US carriers on the trans-Pacific it is a bloodbath. We sustained non-stop losses for 15 years," a former Qantas executive said. "The whole tragedy is that people always forget about the past. The route is really a summary of the way the Australian economy has gone it was rocketing along for 15 years and then hit a wall."

The trans-Pacific route generated about 30 per cent of Qantas's pre-tax earnings last year. But with V Australia and Delta now competing, Qantas's market share will fall from 70 per cent to just over 50 per cent.

Qantas's international operations have been losing money for months and are expected to be largely responsible for the airline posting a second-half loss. In May, Qantas's international yields slumped almost 25 per cent on the same month last year. Likewise, V Australia will pull Virgin firmly into the red this year.

UBS analysts believe one of the four trans-Pacific carriers might not last the distance, indicating United or V Australia.

But United's Australasian general manager, Alison Espley, said it was committed to the route because "it's such a jewel that we intend to keep it".

"Someone may not last the distance, but we will. I think someone is going to have to look very seriously at [pulling off the route]," she said. She estimates capacity will rise by more than 35 per cent with the arrival of Delta, V Australia flying from three destinations to Los Angeles and Qantas using its A380 double-decker on the route. Fares have already fallen to about $900 return, less than half what they were a year ago.

V Australia and Delta, which will fly direct, hope to attract the 30 per cent of passengers who have been flying on carriers that make stopovers.

But that may not be enough. Passenger traffic to the US is unlikely to rise significantly in the next six to 12 months. And Macquarie Equities analysts have said that a lack of demand is likely to force carriers into discounting for longer.

Qantas and Virgin have been fortunate to have a domestic market to fall back on. So Tiger's attempt to break their duopoly on which 19,000 passengers fly each day between Sydney and Melbourne is a challenge to the incumbents.

"Tiger will want to increase the overall pie but it will certainly be a struggle for all of them," said the executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives, Warren Bennett.

Like any new entrant, Tiger claims it can increase the market by enticing people who do not usually fly with bargain fares. The arrival of the Ryanair wannabe of South-East Asia will add 24 weekly flights, increasing capacity by about 5 per cent.

"We have got ourselves into the false belief that there is space in Australia for only two airlines," said Tiger Australia's managing director, Shelley Roberts. "We are about to grow the market on the third busiest route in the world."

But Qantas and Virgin will staunchly defend their patch. As an airline executive put it: "In Australia the bigger airlines all want Tiger gone."
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