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Old November 28th, 2010, 04:13 AM   #701
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Source:http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...095967/1/.html

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Qantas flight grounded due to wiring problem
Posted: 28 November 2010 0855 hrs

SYDNEY - Qantas grounded a Boeing 747 overnight because of a wiring malfunction, the Australian airline said Sunday, the latest incident to hit the carrier since a mid-air engine blast earlier this month.

The London-bound flight was cancelled late on Saturday after the pilot experienced "an issue with one of the engines" before take-off, a Qantas spokesman said.

"It turned out to be a wiring issue," he said, adding that the malfunction affected the system which supports the engine.

Reports said passengers heard a loud noise as the plane was taxiing towards the runway at Sydney airport. Engineers worked on the aircraft overnight and it departed for London early Sunday.

"It was unfortunate timing for a number of reasons but it is not a major issue," the spokesman said of the incident.

The hitch came just hours after Qantas put its first Airbus A380 back in the air after grounding its six superjumbos for three weeks after one experienced an engine explosion on November 4.

That blast, which shattered parts of the turbine and damaged the plane's wing, forced an emergency landing in Singapore and saw the airline put the world's biggest passenger jets through intensive safety checks.

These resulted in Qantas, which uses the superjumbos on long-haul routes to London and Los Angeles, replacing some of the A380s' Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

Airline chief executive Alan Joyce, who was on the Sydney to Singapore leg of the first A380 to resume flying on Saturday, said the company was now "100 percent comfortable" with the safety of the giant planes.

Only two of Qantas' A380s will initially return to service, with the airline taking delivery of two new superjumbos before the year's end and another two in early 2011.

Qantas, which has never suffered a fatal crash in the jet age, has voluntarily barred the A380s from operating on trans-Pacific flights to Los Angeles because of the extra engine thrust required.

- AFP/ir
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Old November 28th, 2010, 07:43 AM   #702
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Qantas will maintain safety rep: Joyce
AAP
Sunday 28 November 2010

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has dampened suggestions of a safety problem at the airline, after engine trouble grounded another Qantas aircraft.

Mr Joyce also played down the sacking of a Jetstar pilot who raised concerns about cost-cutting measures at the airline, saying a major airline union is using safety as a bargaining card for industrial relations.

He said a recent series of highly publicised incidents involving Qantas aircraft have for the most part been everyday occurrences.

"The issue that started all of this was the issue on the A380, which involved a very serious failure on a Rolls-Royce engine," Mr Joyce told ABC's Inside Business program on Sunday.

"It was a new engine and it was absolutely clearly nothing to do with anything Qantas was doing.

"The other issues that have occurred happen in the aviation industry every day ... last week there were a couple of turn-backs I think that got a lot of reporting."

His comments came just half an hour after the latest Qantas plane to suffer engine trouble returned to the air at 9.30am (AEDT) on Sunday, after a "minor wiring issue" was resolved.

Passengers were pulled off the London-bound QF1 747 on Saturday night, when a loud noise emanated from the engine before take-off.

Mr Joyce said Jetstar pilot Joe Eakins, who lost his job this month, broke the airline's code of conduct and left Jetstar management with no option but to terminate his employment.

"In this case the pilot in question didn't raise safety concerns - he raised issues that are industrial relations issues related to employment in Singapore and relating to progression within the organisation," Mr Joyce said.

While employed with Jetstar, Mr Eakins wrote an opinion piece in Fairfax media raising concerns that the airline's safety culture could be "obliterated if the offshoring push continues".

Mr Joyce said pilots flying for Jetstar Asia, based in Singapore, were "paid quite well", so there was no concern that lowerwages would lead to safety problems.

Mr Joyce said the union backing Mr Eakins wanted to play "the safety card for industrial relations" purposes.

"It's purely that yet again," he said. "It is outrageous that they keep doing this."

Mr Joyce defended Qantas's reputation for safety, saying the airline's handling of the A380 crisis would prove positive in the long run.

"The compliments that we're getting on how Qantas handled it, how our pilots handled it, our cabin crew handled it, how the organisation handled it, I think will actually do our brand really good in the medium to long term."
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Old November 28th, 2010, 08:03 PM   #703
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Qantas Defends Safety Record As A380s Resume Flights
28 November 2010

CANBERRA (Dow Jones)--Qantas Ltd. (QAN.AU) Chief Executive Alan Joyce Sunday defended the airline's handling of a string of recent incidents, notably an engine explosion on an Airbus A380 superjumbo earlier this month, as another aircraft was grounded overnight.

Qantas Saturday resumed limited A380 services for the first time since the Nov. 4 explosion forced Qantas to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

The safe departure from Sydney Saturday of A380 Flight QF31 bound for London via Singapore was marred by engine issues that grounded a separate Qantas flight, this time a Boeing Co. 747 aircraft.

That flight, QF1, also scheduled to fly from Sydney to London via Bangkok was delayed after an engine issue was detected while it was taxiing to the runway, a Qantas spokesman said Sunday.

The aircraft returned to the terminal and because there wasn't time to fix the issue--a wiring fault--before Sydney Airport's 11 p.m. curfew, passengers were accommodated in hotels overnight. The 747, carrying 351 passengers, departed at 9.44 a.m. Sunday (2244 GMT) the spokesman said.

The A380's lift off Saturday had been designed as something of a public-relations exercise for Qantas, with Joyce joining passengers on the Singapore leg to demonstrate his confidence in the aircraft. That flight is still on its way from Singapore to London, and is scheduled to land at 6.05 a.m. London time.

Joyce said Qantas's cautious response to the A380 incident--grounding its entire fleet of six for over three weeks--is being viewed positively by many customers.

"These issues...demonstrate a strong positive safety culture, because when we found out a problem with an engine that had a design issue, we grounded the fleet until we knew how we could fix the issue," Joyce said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television. "I think it'll actually do our brand really good in the medium-to-long-term."

Still, a series of in-air incidents and groundings in recent weeks isn't helping the carrier's share price, which is down some 7% since Nov. 4. The shares closed steady Friday at A$2.67.

Joyce reiterated Sunday it is too early to estimate the cost of the disruptions. But Qantas may seek compensation from Rolls Royce Group PLC (RYCEY, RR.LN), maker of the faulty A380 engine.
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Old November 29th, 2010, 07:27 PM   #704
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Qantas puts freight plans on back burner
29 November 2010
The Sydney Morning Herald

QANTAS is likely to delay the outcome of a review of its two freight ventures with Australia Post until early next year, as corporate filings show earnings at one of the companies were weaker than expected.

The joint-venture partners were due to unveil a new structure for Star Track Express and Australian Air Express, which employ almost 5000 people between them, last month.

But the owners remain in discussions about the best structure for the poorly performing freight businesses and are not expected to reach an outcome until February.

Macquarie Equities and Citi analysts have said that it is likely the joint ventures will be merged to reduce back-office costs. But it is believed Qantas and Australia Post favour operating the 50:50 joint ventures separately under a holding company arrangement.

Qantas would not divulge the joint ventures' bottom-line results for the year when it released its own earnings in August, other than to say they "haven't moved substantially".

But corporate filings now show that profit at Star Track Express fell 33 per cent to $12.5 million for the year to June 30. It is also considerably less than its $26 million profit in 2007-08.

Star Track Express, Qantas's most celebrated acquisition in the past decade, paid a total dividend of $20 million which was split between Qantas and Australia Post.

Other filings to the corporate regulator show that Australian Air Express made a profit of $13.3 million for the year to June, a big improvement on $119,000 in 2008-09.

However, it appears that the increase in earnings was achieved through cost reduction given that total revenue at Australian Air Express fell 5 per cent to $534 million. The result is also much less than the profit of $17.6 million in 2008-07, or the $30.2 million achieved in 2006-07.

Last week its workforce secured wages rises of between 14 and 21 per cent over the next three years.

Its fleet includes four 737-300s, three BAe-146 jets and smaller turboprops. It uses the belly space in Qantas and Jetstar planes to offer a door-to-door delivery service.

In late 2006 the company, which has a workforce of 1242, began moving from 727 freighters to the more fuel-efficient 737s, which it leases from a Qantas subsidiary. The joint ventures do not include Qantas's mainline freight operation, which mainly consists of selling the belly space in its jets.

In June this year Qantas appeared to have abandoned plans to become a significant player in the Asia-Pacific air freight market after it sold a business it once dubbed a "great building block for expansion and growth". The sale of DPEX Worldwide to Toll Holdings also raised expectations Qantas could sell its half stakes in AAE and Star Track Express to Australia Post.

But two months later Qantas and Australia Post confirmed that they would remain partners in the freight joint ventures. Some insiders, however, still do not see Qantas as a long-term shareholder in Star Track Express.

Qantas also has other loose ends to tie up including the planned sale of its 46 per cent stake in Fiji's national flag carrier, Air Pacific.
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Old November 29th, 2010, 07:29 PM   #705
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QANTAS BOEING 737 Grounded plane had earlier fault
30 November 2010
The Advertiser

A Qantas aircraft grounded with an engine-related issue in Adelaide yesterday is the same Boeing 737 that had an engine ``flare'' in Melbourne on Sunday night, delaying its flight to Adelaide.

Yesterday, a fault with an engine valve was found on the plane that was to have operated QF738 at 9.30am from Adelaide to Sydney.

Passengers were first told there would be a delay then at about 11am that the flight was cancelled.

A Qantas spokesman said the explanation for yesterday's cancellation was ``technically complex'' but it concerned an engine valve that affected engine efficiency and was not related to Sunday night's delay.
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Old November 29th, 2010, 07:30 PM   #706
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AUST AIRPORT OWNERS' MAJOR DEV'T PROPOSALS UP FOR MORE SCRUTINY

CANBERRA, Nov 29 Asia Pulse - Australia's airport owners will have to consult more broadly when planning major developments, including runway upgrades.

Parliament has passed laws that require the owners of all major airports, including Sydney and Brisbane, undertake public consultation on any proposed building or expansion.

That includes runway alterations that would significantly change flight paths or aircraft noise arrangements.

Certain types of non-aviation developments, including residential space, also will be prohibited.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says commonwealth-leased airports must exist primarily for aviation purposes.

"And we are serious about giving greater voice to local communities over airport planning," he said.

The House of Representatives on Monday supported a version of the Airports Amendment Bill 2010, amended by the Senate last week.
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Old November 30th, 2010, 05:04 PM   #707
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Handlers go slow on Qantas bags
1 December 2010
The Age

QANTAS baggage handlers are planning a "go-slow" over Christmas in protest at new rules likely to result in heavier luggage.

The national carrier has quietly changed its luggage policy so that, from June next year, domestic passengers will be allowed only one check-in bag rather than spreading the load. The new rules apply to those buying tickets from today.

The Transport Workers Union says the rules will force people to pack one heavy bag, making life difficult for older passengers and increasing injuries for baggage handlers.

"We will work as slow as necessary to make sure every time we shift a bag it is 100 per cent safe with absolutely no risk of injury," said one handler. The TWU has backed the go-slow.

Qantas said most passengers already travelled with one piece of luggage well under the maximum weight.
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Old December 2nd, 2010, 08:47 AM   #708
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Source:http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...096800/1/.html

Quote:
Australian probe pinpoints "critical" issue with A380 engine
Posted: 02 December 2010 1126 hrs

SYDNEY: Australian officials probing a Qantas A380 engine blast last month reported a "critical safety issue" with the Rolls-Royce unit on Thursday that they said could lead to "catastrophic engine failure".

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said a misaligned component had thinned the wall of an oil pipe in the exploded engine, causing "fatigue cracking" that prompted leakage and a fire "central to the engine failure".

"This condition could lead to an elevated risk of fatigue crack initiation and growth, oil leakage and potential catastrophic engine failure from a resulting oil fire," the ATSB said, noting it was "understood to be related to the manufacturing process."

The Bureau issued a directive urging Rolls-Royce to "address the safety issue and take actions necessary to ensure the safety of flight operations in transport aircraft equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 series engines."

Qantas said it would immediately conduct further engine investigations as a result of the findings, but stressed it was just a precautionary measure and "there is no immediate risk to flight safety."

"Qantas currently has two A380 aircraft in operational service, following the grounding of the fleet on 4 November. Both A380 aircraft will be inspected at the Qantas Jet Base in Sydney," the airline said.

"Inspections will commence this afternoon."

The flagship carrier said it would determine whether further action would need to be taken after inspections were complete and it had consulted both Rolls-Royce and regulators.

"Qantas does not anticipate at this stage that the inspections will have an impact on international services. However contingency arrangements will be in place, if needed," it said.

The findings come just five days after Qantas resumed A380 flights, though the carrier has barred the superjumbo from trans-Pacific trips to Los Angeles due to the extra engine thrust required.

It had grounded all six of its Airbus superjumbos after the November 4 blast over the Indonesian island of Batam, which forced an A380 to return to Singapore airport trailing smoke.

Checks revealed problems with 16 of the total 24 Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines powering Qantas's A380s -- four per plane -- meaning the turbines would have to be replaced or modified.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce on Saturday said he was "100 percent comfortable" with the A380s' operation.

Australia's national carrier has never suffered a fatal crash in the jet age.

-AFP/ac
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Old December 4th, 2010, 11:01 AM   #709
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look at this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEfddTCfyT0
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Old December 15th, 2010, 08:20 AM   #710
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Qantas managers head for the exit
13 December 2010
The Sydney Morning Herald

QANTAS is suffering the loss of a growing number of highly experienced senior managers who have formed the brains of its international operations for decades.

After more than 42 years in various senior roles at Qantas, Roger Lindeman's defection to Virgin Blue takes the number of senior managers to leave Australia's largest airline in recent months to at least seven.

Mr Lindeman, who was regarded as Qantas's most experienced executive in airport operations, will become Virgin Blue's head of service experience, which includes oversight of airport lounges. Virgin Blue has been trying to grab a bigger share of the lucrative corporate travel market from Qantas.

The turnover in senior managers at Qantas, many of whom have 20 or 30 years of service, has intensified over the past year and is seen as a blow to its key long-haul operations.

Others to depart include Hope Antzoulastos, the head of network for domestic and international operations, who resigned shortly after she was reassigned to a project role. Insiders describe the resignation of the 23-year Qantas veteran as significant because of her specialist knowledge in scheduling.

Mr Lindeman's departure also follows the resignation of Peter McLaughlin, most recently general manager of Northern California and Western USA. He is a former Qantas general manager of NSW, which is regarded as one of the more crucial management roles.

Judith Crompton, the regional general manager for Britain and Ireland, which included oversight of Qantas's operations at London's Heathrow Airport, also left in September to join the Middle Eastern airline Etihad as the head of global accounts sales. She is also a former regional general manager for NSW.

In what is regarded as a retaliatory move, Qantas has poached Virgin Blue's former head of government relations, Tony Wheelens. He left the airline on Friday to become a government relations manager at Qantas, reporting to Rob Wood, the head of government and international relations.

His appointment comes several months after Virgin Blue poached two other Qantas executives, Will Owens and Jane McKeon, as the heads of government relations and yield management respectively.

David Epstein, Qantas's chief spin doctor and government relations boss, will also leave this month after two years at the airline to take up a role as the head of public affairs at BHP Billiton.

The recent departures follow a big overhaul of Qantas's senior management six months after Alan Joyce took the reins in late 2008, including the axing of 90 senior management roles.

Mr Joyce is regarded as having a preference for changing the roles of individual managers frequently instead of clocking up years of experience in specialist positions.

"Alan is very keen on the fact that when he was at [the Irish airline] Aer Lingus he was moved through all different areas," one said.

But the former boss of Jetstar is also seen as being sensitive to not installing too many of his former managers at that low-cost airline in some of the top roles at its full-service parent, Qantas.
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Old December 15th, 2010, 08:21 PM   #711
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Oh my. I hope new managers don't take it to bankrupt
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Old December 16th, 2010, 09:04 AM   #712
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Virgin Blue Pact Approved in Blow to Qantas
16 December 2010
The Wall Street Journal Online

SYDNEY Australia's competition watchdog on Thursday approved with conditions Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd.'s alliance with Air New Zealand Ltd., reversing an earlier decision to block the deal and hurting the share price of competitor Qantas Airways Ltd.

The regulator's call means that two out of three international alliances proposed by Virgin Blue's new chief executive, John Borghetti, have a green light. An arrangement with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways that received interim approval this year was also granted draft approval Thursday by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

Australia's second-biggest carrier by traffic and market capitalization recently hired Mr. Borghetti, a long-serving Qantas executive, as it attempts to wrest market share from its larger rival by expanding its international offering and attracting more business travelers.

Qantas is Virgin Blue's biggest competitor on the route between Australia and New Zealand and had objected to fast regulatory approval of the Etihad deal. Its shares fell 2.6% Thursday as Virgin Blue shares jumped 5.9%.

"It's an uplift for Virgin Blue but at the same time it means more competitive pressures on Qantas," said Jamie Spiteri, head of trading at Shaw Stockbroking. "Qantas is a victim of its long-term success in having such a previously strong market share."

A Qantas spokeswoman said that New Zealand is an important destination for the company. "But with our two-branded strategy, being Qantas and Jetstar, our strong network and schedule and our competitive prices, Qantas is well placed on the trans-Tasman route," she said. Qantas's low-cost offshoot, Jetstar, also flies over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.

The Australian regulator has also approved an alliance between Virgin Blue and U.S.-based Delta Air Lines Inc., but U.S. counterparts rejected the deal in a draft decision. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to make its final call in February. Australian government officials in October formally asked U.S. officials to consider reversing their decision.

Alliances between carriers involve coordinating pricing, schedules and capacity, sparking competition concerns on routes with a limited number of players.

Competition on the trans-Tasman route is fierce, with "no-one making a quid," Australian Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson told Dow Jones Newswires in September.

The ACCC rarely reverses draft decisions, but after listening to feedback from Virgin Blue, Air New Zealand and others, it authorized the pact for three years, after which time it will conduct another review. The airlines will be required to maintain and grow seat numbers on routes where the ACCC has identified competition issues, particularly routes involving Wellington. The conditions are intended to restrict the ability of the alliance to raise fares on these routes by limiting capacity, the regulator said.

"The ACCC considers that the alliance is likely to benefit passengers in a number of ways, including more choice of routes and frequencies, and potentially lower fares as a result of cost savings and efficiency improvements," ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said in a statement.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe said the decision favors customers and will help the trans-Tasman market continue to grow.

Richard Branson's Virgin Group owns 26% of Virgin Blue.
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Old December 16th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #713
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Star Alliance trains sights on Aussie airline
17 December 2010
The Australian

AUSTRALIA remains a ``white spot'' and an important market for the Star Alliance, the head of the giant airline group said this week.

Star chief executive Jaan Albrecht said the alliance had been exploring opportunities in Australia and was watching Virgin Blue's shift from being a low-cost carrier to become more compatible with network carriers.

Mr Albrecht said any initiative to bring another carrier into the fold would be led by Air New Zealand. ``So we, Star, would follow and listen very carefully (to) any recommendations that would come originally from the prime carrier in this part of the world, which again is Air New Zealand.''

The comments came as Virgin chief executive John Borghetti mixed with Star Alliance executives in Queenstown, New Zealand, and would not rule out joining the giant alliance.

Mr Borghetti said Virgin Blue was looking at all possibilities but would not comment further.

However, the decision by the Australian competition regulator to give a conditional green light to the airline's alliance with Air NZ brings the possibility a step closer.

Star sees membership growth as a key asset and is adding airlines. It began with five members and now boasts 31, offering more than 21,200 daily flights to 1172 airports in 181 countries.

This year it added Greece's Aegean Airlines and Brazil's TAM Airlines. It has accepted Ethiopian Airlines as well as Latin America's Avianca-TACA and Copa Airlines as future members and is attempting to woo LAN Chile from rival OneWorld network.

``The global reach that Star has been able to build over the last 14 years is one of our key advantages compared to any other alliance group,'' Mr Albrecht said at the NZ conference.

The Star chief said the alliance remained viable despite the consolidation that was beginning throughout the industry, much of it involving its members.

Steve Creedy travelled to New Zealand courtesy of Air New Zealand and Star Alliance.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 05:40 PM   #714
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Chinese flyers on rise
AAP
21 December 2010

THE number of international travellers passing through Melbourne Airport rose almost 10 per cent last year, driven largely by Asian passengers.

A total of 38,700 Chinese passport holders -- a rise of 26.7 per cent -- surpassed the number of visitors from the traditional British market, Melbourne Airport chief Chris Woodruff said.

``With three airlines -- Air China, China Eastern and China Southern -- now flying daily direct services between Melbourne and China for the first time, the potential of China to become Melbourne's major tourism market is becoming more and more apparent,'' he explained.

Mr Woodruff said the Chinese market was expected to continue to grow.

Japanese passport holders were up 51.6 per cent, South Korea up 36.3 per cent and Malaysia up 18.7 per cent.

More than 43,000 international passengers passed through Melbourne Airport in November than the same time last year.

Overall passenger numbers at the airport increased by 7.4 per cent for the month.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 07:41 PM   #715
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United says too many seats on US route

SYDNEY, Dec 16 AAP - United Airlines says it is committed to the Australian market despite suffering as recent new entrants added capacity on the trans-Pacific route.

United Airlines worldwide chief executive Jeff Smisek says the four carriers now battling it out over the Pacific are doing it tough.

He says there are too many seats and fares make it difficult to achieve a profit.

"This market is clearly unstable, there's far too much capacity for anybody to make money on this route today," Mr Smisek said in an interview in Sydney on Thursday.

United was one of two operators on the route alongside Qantas Airways for a long time.

However, two additional competitors in Virgin Blue's long-haul offshoot V Australia and Delta Air Lines have entered the fray in recent years.

"The route has historically been a good route for United, yes, but obviously with the level of capacity we have today it's tough slugging for everybody I'm sure," Mr Smisek said.

"We don't comment on route by route analysis, but I generally don't say tough slugging if we're raking it in."

US Department of Transportion figures showed that capacity between Australia and the US rose 19.3 per cent in December 2009 compared with the same month a year earlier.

United flies to Melbourne and Sydney from Los Angeles and San Francisco. During the Christmas-New Year period, it is operating double-daily services.

United is the world's largest airline - formed after the merger of United and Continental.

Mr Smisek said United has had a presence in Australia for more than two decades and was committed to the market.

"United has been flying this route for 25 years, we have a lot of corporate customers, we have a lot of travel agency partners, we have a lot of contacts, we have a lot of knowledge of the people," Mr Smisek said.

"That brings enormous staying power to United in this market."

Mr Smisek was speaking at a National Aviation Press Club lunch in Sydney on Thursday.

During his speech, he flagged an improvement in the airline's product to Australia - economy class passengers on United's Boeing 747 aircraft to Australia do not have personalised entertainment systems.

He also suggested United's partnership with Japan-based All Nippon Airways, announced recently, could result in more flights to Australia .

"I would expect that you are going to see as a result of the formation of that joint-venture additional routes and additional flight opportunities, including some flight opportunities hopefully out of Australia," he said.

He said talk show host Oprah Winfrey's recent trip to Australia, when she filmed two shows in front of 6,000 people at the Sydney Opera House and spoke glowingly of the country, would stimulate US travellers to head Down Under.

"I think it was a clever strategy and I hope it pays off for Australia," he said.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 01:21 PM   #716
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Quote:
Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue get alliance approval
By: The Associated Press 12/21/10 1:27 AM
The Associated Press

New Zealand's government approved an alliance between Australian budget airline Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand on Tuesday, clearing the way for the airlines to expand operations between the two Pacific countries.

New Zealand Transport Minister Steven Joyce gave the deal a green light, a week after Australia's competition regulator approved the alliance.

"More sustainable competition, cost savings and the commitment both airlines have made to maintain trans-Tasman passenger numbers will be major benefits of the alliance," Joyce said in a statement.

Joyce's approval applies for three years, the same time period agreed to by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The carriers will be allowed to coordinate prices, scheduling, capacity and routes for flights between Australia and New Zealand.

"How Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue implement the alliance, as well as the state of the market, will be taken into account in deciding whether further authorization is given," Joyce said.

Both airlines welcomed the decision. Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti said it would lead to better flight schedules, increased flight frequency and good fares

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/b...#ixzz18vhmO6B9
(Washington Examiner, 2010)
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 05:32 PM   #717
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Old December 26th, 2010, 09:04 PM   #718
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Qantas wants its image to take off
27 December 2010
The Australian

The carrier hopes for better times after a tough year

TOPPING the list of Alan Joyce's New Year's resolutions -- as he battles Virgin Blue for the corporate customers and defends the airline's 65 per cent ``line in the sand'' domestic market share -- is a plan to get more people to say positive things about Qantas.

The airline has been working on a measure called the net promoter score (NPS): the difference between ``advocates'' who actively talk up the airline and ``detractors'' talking about bad experiences.

Joyce says that, despite the dramatic events of the past year, Qantas has a positive NPS, but he will enter the new year looking for ways to improve the score.

``We've been working with our people in terms of the customer-facing delivery (and) on the hard product, and asking how can we dramatically improve the net promoter scores for the organisation over the next few years,'' he says. `` It's something that the whole organisation is getting behind and I think it will make a good difference.''

It has been a torrid year for Qantas with executives trapped in Vietnam, volcanic ash clouds that closed down European airspace and an exploding engine that grounded the airline's A380 superjumbos.

After weathering the global financial crisis and swine flu, the Qantas boss ended his first full year in the top job thinking the worst was over.

But he wasn't far into 2010 before he was regularly recalling a phrase coined by predecessor Geoff Dixon: ``constant shock syndrome''.

`` I thought, this is going to get easier, that the worst is over with -- it can't get any worse than that,'' he says. ``And then 2010 (had) a lot more challenges in it than even 2009.''

Freezing weather in Europe means the year appears to be ending as dramatically as it began. Qantas entered the year with a concerted effort to get executives seconded to Jetstar Pacific released from Vietnam, after that country's government took exception to the low-cost carrier's fuel hedging policies.

It would be June before the issue was resolved, after a herculean effort that sucked up management time.

In the meantime, a volcano with a barely pronounceable name had exploded in Iceland and grounded flights throughout Europe. The disaster would strand thousands of Qantas passengers and end up costing the airline $46 million.

As befits an Irishman, Joyce finds a silver lining even in a volcanic cloud.

He says the crisis showed the organisation at its best and gave its state-of-the-art crisis centre in Sydney its first workout.

``We've been practising three or four times a year and the volcano was probably the first time all those new processes kicked into place for a real exercise,'' he says. ``It works very well.

``How the company managed its way through (the volcano crisis) was a real credit to it, and the feedback from passengers, and the positive impact it had on our reputation, was actually quite good.''

Unfortunately, that workout was not the crisis centre's last for the year.

On November 4, a design fault in a Roll-Royce Trent 900 engine started an oil fire that would result in the spectacular disintegration of a turbine disc in the No 2 engine of a Qantas A380 heading out from Singapore.

The first major incident on an A380, it would attract world headlines and cause substantial damage to the plane.

The incident, the second uncontained engine failure on a Qantas jet in a few months, would overshadow the airline's 90th birthday celebrations and prompt a frenzy of negative media coverage highlighting every glitch in the airline's operations. It came as the airline and unions were wrestling with enterprise bargaining negotiations in a fractious environment, with pilots and mechanics campaigning against offshoring and ground staff worried about the effect of new technology.

Joyce tackled the issues head on, a strategy that has gained him kudos, and says he is happy with the way Qantas has ended the year. ``There are some supposed brand experts that are saying the `Rainman' effect is over and the Qantas brand is dead,'' he says, refering to favourable comments in the famous Dustin Hoffman movie. The brand is very robust and anybody who looks at Qantas knows that.

``Our brand research has actually shown that the brand hasn't taken a hit to the extent people are talking about. There will be some short-term issues around, but some of the comparisons are actually the best they've been.''

And, the Qantas chief notes, it wasn't all bad news. He points to the continued rollout of new products -- new lounges and hi-tech check-in facilities as well as a burgeoning frequent flyer program on track to reach 8 million members.

Jetsar's continued growth and record profitability was also a big story for the year, he says.

``Jetstar Asia -- now that we have a structure that works -- is going through its second year of over 40 per cent growth and digesting that growth very well.

``Jetstar is expanding its international long-haul services again, which I think is really good for that business.''

The group's financial situation also continues to improve.

Business traffic is returning and has boosted Qantas from the third most profitable domestic carrier to the the top spot as yields have improved throughout the year.

And if Joyce is worried about the threat posed by Virgin Blue under former colleague John Borghetti, he is not admitting it.

He says Qantas still commands 87 per cent of the domestic corporate market and has maintained that position during the year, losing the AFL to Virgin but gaining customers Boral and Eli Lilly.

The airline is also making good progress with small to medium enterprises and taking back share in that category.

Ultimately, Joyce believes that possession is nine-tenths of the law and the airline's service, extensive network, fleet of 30 widebody aircraft and frequent flyer program will keep its corporate customers loyal.

He says the investment in products -- including more than $70m spent on lounges and tens of millions on check-in facilities -- leaves Qantas ``light years ahead of the opposition'' and he argues they will have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to catch up.

``We're very confident in our strategy for the corporate market and what we're doing,'' he says. ``I've always had this view that if Qantas plays its best game, it doesn't matter what the competition's doing, we're going to keep the corporate market.''

The picture is a little less clear in the leisure market, which is suffering from too much capacity. Joyce again points to Jetstar's success in this sector as well as outbound international in Asia and New Zealand.

``So, while there is a lot of discounting in the leisure end in the domestic market, Jetstar is becoming a portfolio of operations and it's been able to handle that quite well,'' he says.

Internationally, the airline is seeing an improvement through a mix of business, premium economy and first-class travellers.

Joyce sees good growth in both the domestic and overseas markets in the coming year, with the Asia-Pacific the big growth vehicle and international operations benefiting from the resumed rollout of the A380s.

``We would be rapidly getting our fleet back up in terms of the A380s, which will add capacity to the North American and the UK markets,'' he says. ``We believe that the prospects for both of those markets will be good into the medium to long term. I think a lot of people now are seeing very positive indicators coming out of the US market, so it's a market we want to be ready for us to grow again.''

In Asia, the focus will continue to be on China. ``China and Hong Kong are going well. Japan's going well,'' Joyce says. ``We've seen growth in the Japanese market for the Qantas brand for the first time in 10 years and we're looking at what we can do in terms of further growth opportunities for Qantas in this region.''

Qantas has also added a new string to its bow -- West Australian fly in, fly out operation Network Aviation -- and Joyce sees strong growth in this area. He says this will not just be in Western Australia and has flagged it will tie in with the group's overall corporate strategy.

Wider issues the Qantas boss sees as paramount in the coming year include the cost of carbon and the return of the skills shortage. A member of the federal government's business roundtable on climate change, he says Qantas supports the need to reduce carbon emissions and is spending significant sums to reduce its carbon footprint.

But he says knowing the price of carbon is key to decisions on capital investments. ``You do need to understand on what basis you're making those investments and I think a lot of industries are calling out for certainty on this.''

Also important is understanding what other investments and technology are needed.

For the aviation industry, Joyce says, this means long-term projects involving public-private partnerships and focusing on sustainable aviation fuels and air traffic management. ``I don't think the private sector on its own is going to be able to make these things happen.''

He sees low unemployment levels as a double-edged sword for Qantas. They mean people are confident enough to travel but also create a skills shortage. ``Back in 2007-08 we were finding it tough in certain segments getting people,'' he says ``And I think we all need to be conscious of this and how we make sure we keep pace with the economic growth.''
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 08:24 AM   #719
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Qantas Close To Bio-Fuel Plant Deal - Report
3 January 2011
DOW JONES

Australian airline Qantas Airways Ltd (QA.AU) will this month announce a deal to build the world's second commercial-scale plant to produce green biojet fuel made from waste for its fleet of aircraft, The Guardian reports Monday, without citing specific sources.

Its proposed partner, U.S.-based fuel producer Solena Group , is also in negotiations with easyJet PLC (EZJ.LN), Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYAAY) and Aer Lingus Group PLC (AERL.LN), about building a plant in Dublin, although this project is less advanced, the Guardian said.

Airlines are trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels ahead of their entry into the EU's carbon emissions trading scheme in January 2012, and the introduction of other new environmental legislation, The Guardian said. Under the scheme, any airline flying in or out of the EU must cut emissions or pay a penalty, newspaper said.

Solena's joint venture with Qantas--which could be announced within the next fortnight--follows a tie-up with British Airways (BAY.LN), signed in February last year, to build the world's first commercial-scale biojet fuel plant in London, creating up to 1,200 jobs, The Guardian said.

Newspaper Web site: http://guardian.co.uk
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Old January 21st, 2011, 07:24 PM   #720
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Stranded on the tarmac
22 January 2011
The Sydney Morning Herald

As airline belts tighten, extreme weather events mean even longer passenger delays, writes Clive Dorman.

The good news is that Australia has fewer flight disruptions because of inclement weather than the northern hemisphere. The bad news is that Australians are as likely as anyone else in the world to suffer mind-numbing disruptions that last weeks as a result of bad weather and other natural events such as volcanic eruptions.

That's because Australian airlines have been at least as aggressive as airlines in the US and Europe in pushing "load factors" (the percentage of seats filled) to new highs. As a result, airlines have never had less wriggle room in recovering from major disruptions such as last year's volcanic eruption in Iceland or the Christmas snowstorms in the US and Europe.

Once, airlines could break even with load factors of about 65 per cent. Now, as average fares paid by consumers continue to fall, that figure is approaching 80 per cent for many carriers. Airline accountants will no longer accept planes that are, on average, less than 80 per cent full - about 10 percentage points more than a decade ago.

The inevitable result is that disruption from weather events, such as the pre-Christmas shutdown at London's Heathrow airport and the New Year's white-out in New York, is likely to last for weeks, not days.

At least during the flooding of coastal Queensland and the closure of Rockhampton airport, the backlog of passengers could be cleared relatively quickly as the airlines were able to operate around the clock, unhindered by curfews such as those in Sydney and Adelaide.

But with airline load factors around the world soaring above 80 per cent, peak-season weather disruptions in the northern hemisphere's big cities have proved a nightmare. Flights are so full and scheduled so tightly that there is no room for quick recovery when airports are closed, industry analysts told a Bloomberg news agency.

"When your planes are all 90 per cent full [in peak holiday season] and you cancel a flight, it's going to take you another 10 flights to re-accommodate all those passengers," a Washington aviation industry consultant, Darryl Jenkins, says.

US carriers are now more determined than ever to prevent financial shocks from the various meltdowns of the past decade. There are now 10 per cent fewer seats in the US airline system than in 2000, as airlines have tightened their belts.

"Ultimately, the benefits from lower capacity are far, far more beneficial to the airlines than the impact of not being able to accommodate a few more passengers in a fluke event like [the December blizzard]," an analyst for the Baltimore-based firm Stifel Nicolaus, Hunter Keay, told Reuters.

Even though the global recession didn't affect Australia dramatically and air travel continues to grow by more than 5 per cent a year, planes were 80.6 per cent full in the year to June and 81.9 per cent full in October last year.

Qantas has only just finished clearing the backlog from the pre-Christmas meltdown at Heathrow, which has been blamed on the airport's unwillingness to spend enough on snow-clearing equipment.

In November - the last month of the pre-holiday "low" season - Qantas's worldwide system was operating 81.6 per cent full and its subsidiary Jetstar 83 per cent full, which means travellers will often encounter flights that are sold out.

The airlines are signalling that this is the way of the future.
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