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Old December 11th, 2004, 06:29 PM   #61
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Wednesday December 8, 4:50 PM
Branson launches Virgin Atlantic flights in Australia

AP - In a flurry of publicity Agimmicks that have become his trademark, British entrepreneur Richard Branson launched the first Virgin Atlantic flights from London to Sydney Wednesday, vowing to break the hold British Airways and Qantas Airways Ltd. have on the long-distance route.

Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, disembarked from the inaugural flight from London, balancing on the aircraft's wing carrying a surfboard and flanked by models in bikinis. He later posed with a cardboard cutout of Geoff Dixon, poking fun at an earlier declaration by the Qantas chief executive officer that Virgin would never fly to Australia.

So far the airline's bookings for the Sydney-London flight with the stopover in Hong Kong were very good, Branson told reporters.

"January and February (bookings) look extremely good," Branson said, but added that the airline wouldn't post a profit for at least three years.

Branson said he wanted to break the "cozy duopoly" Qantas and British Airways have maintained for years in Australia. His company has already filed a complaint with the Australian competition watchdog, accusing the two airlines of colluding to set prices and hurting competition.

"They have 75 percent of the business class market. They are allowed to collude on fares. They are allowed to sit in dark rooms and work out how they can take the passenger for a ride. Imagine Coca Cola and Pepsi working together like that," Branson said.

He said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would rule on the London-based Virgin Atlantic's appeal next week.

Branson, who owns 25 percent of Virgin Atlantic, also said he had no plans to sell his 25 percent stake in Australian domestic budget carrier Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd.

Separately, Branson said the U.S. offshoot Virgin USA would start services "sometime" next year, but declined to give further details.


British entrepreneur Richard Branson, center, holds a surfboard as he stands on the wing of his Virgin Atlantic Airways plane with models after touching down on its inaugural flight into Australia at Sydney Airport, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004. Atlantic chairman Branson hopes to have up to 300,000 passengers a year flying on the new London-to-Sydney service. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)


British entrepreneur Richard Branson (L) holds a surfboard while Aboriginal dancers perform, after disembarking from his Virgin Atlantic plane in Sydney,
December 8, 2004. Branson is in Sydney to promote Virgin Atlantic's new arrangement for passengers travelling from Hong Kong to Sydney. Virgin
passenegers can now fly from London to Australia, where Branson also part-owns low cost domestic carrier Virgin Blue. REUTERS/David Gray


Virgin Chairman Richard Branson, flanked by Virgin Atlantic Airways flight attendants, holds up a Chinese hat as he poses on a sampan in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004. Branson, who is visiting Hong Kong to launch Virgin Atlantic's new daily service between London and Sydney through Hong Kong, told reporters that his British conglomerate Virgin Group Ltd. is holding talks with a mainland Chinese telecommunications company to set up a joint venture to provide mobile services in China. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)






Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, tours the city by tram in Hong Kong December 7, 2004. Branson is in Hong Kong to promote the daily non-stop scheduled Airbus 340-600 flight services between Hong Kong and Sydney. REUTERS/Kin Cheung


Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, poses with children in Hong Kong December 7, 2004. Branson is in Hong Kong to promote the daily non-stop scheduled Airbus 340-600 flight services between Hong Kong and Sydney. REUTERS/Kin Cheung
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Old December 17th, 2004, 06:35 AM   #62
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Fasten seatbelts for aviation shake-up
Steve Lewis, Chief political reporter
17 December 2004
The Australian

CONTROL of take-offs and landings at major airports including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne could be privatised under a radical aviation shake-up.

The Howard Government will also consider selling essential airport emergency rescue and fire services to private operators to introduce more competition.

The shake-up proposal came as Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson announced a far-reaching review of Airservices Australia.

This will consider whether the agency should be corporatised, although privatisation has been ruled out.

It will also examine whether significant elements of Airservice's operations could be better handled by the private sector or other international operators.

While the agency will retain its monopoly on guiding aircraft between domestic airports and on international routes, Canberra is keen to inject more competition into the industry.

The Government has already announced plans to strip all regulatory functions from the agency, which earns around $600million a year.

Australia would be one of the first countries to privatise its air traffic services. Britain partially privatised its national air traffic control services in 1998, earning valuable revenue for the Government but provoking cries from unions that it was "playing politics with air safety".

The Government has unsuccessfully tried to overhaul air traffic services in the past but was rebuffed by the Senate. But its ability to pass legislation largely unchallenged after July 2005 means a shake-up is inevitable.

Mr Anderson said the reforms were designed to "improve the responsiveness of Airservices Australia to the needs of the aviation industry and the challenges facing aviation".

But Labor last night suggested the Government was more interested in trying to cover up its decision to amend its national airspace reforms.

"The Deputy Prime Minister refuses to take responsibility for the failure of the National Airspace System, illustrated by its rollback last month," the Opposition's industry spokesman Stephen Smith said.

"He appears to be making Airservices Australia the scapegoat for this public policy fiasco."

Mr Smith called on the Government to allow an open and public review rather than the "closed departmental exercise" announced by Mr Anderson.

Mr Anderson also unveiled a new-look board for Airservices, including rural businessman Nick Burton Taylor as its new chairman. Mr Burton Taylor is chairman of the Australian Agricultural Company, which controls vast rural properties, and has also served as director of the Sydney Airport Corporation, Hazelton Airlines and the Federal Airports Corporation.

Speaking to The Australian, Mr Burton Taylor said he was positive about the organisation's future, describing its services as "professional and leading-edge".
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Old December 19th, 2004, 06:49 AM   #63
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New Zealand, Australia seek to boost air security

AUCKLAND, Dec 19 (AFP) - New Zealand and Australia signed Sunday a new information-exchange agreement designed to strengthen the security of air travel.

The agreement was signed by New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff and his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer at the end of their regular six-monthly talks.

It sets out a framework for the exchange of information on passports and visas issued by the two countries, to improve the screening of incoming passengers.

"This arrangement gives New Zealand and Australia a level of cooperation on border security that is as advanced as any in the world," the ministers said in a joint statement.

"The sharing of information will allow us to improve the advance passenger processing systems that we already both have. This system allows the screening of passengers and their travel documents when they check-in overseas for flights to New Zealand and Australia."

The minister said the agreement would also allow more opportunity to pick up on the attempted use of lost, stolen and otherwise invalid travel documents.
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Old December 19th, 2004, 12:54 PM   #64
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Posted: 19 December 2004 1322 hrs

Hijack "joke" sparks international security alert on flight from Australia

CANBERRA : An Italian tourist aboard a Lauda Austrian Airlines flight from Sydney to Vienna sparked a major security alert when he text messaged his wife to tell her his plane had been hijacked by Islamic extremists.

A spokesman for Transport Minister John Anderson said the man sent the message to his wife as a joke after taking off on the flight from Sydney last Sunday.

The man, reported to be Antonio Casale, 35, claimed terrorists were in control of the aircraft and were taking the passengers to an unknown destination.

His distressed wife contacted Italian police, who immediately contacted the Italian embassy in Canberra, who in turn contacted Australian Federal Police, fearing a September 11 style attack.

Anderson's spokesman said authorities were able to quickly work out the identity of the man and discover the message was a hoax.

The captain was reportedly contacted in mid-flight by counter-terrorism negotiators, who found him oblivious to any hijacking attempt.

"The Italian police picked up on it, then the Italian embassy, the Australian Federal Police came in on it and it was quite a big operation," the spokesman added.

He said while the joke had been stupid, the incident had proved authorities were able to quickly deal with terrorist threats.

"This is effectively a text book operation from start to finish by our authorities," the spokesman said.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Casale was taken aside by the captain and detained by police when the jet landed in Vienna. He was questioned by police and later released without charge.

- AFP
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Old December 19th, 2004, 06:03 PM   #65
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Jetstar aims for top in budget war
By Scott Rochfort, Sydney Morning Herald
December 20, 2004

Fourteen months after Qantas handed him the task of stemming Virgin Blue's burgeoning share of the domestic aviation market, Jetstar chief executive Alan Joyce says his airline will soon claim the crown as Australia's lowest-cost carrier.

With Jetstar poised to take delivery of its sixth Airbus 320 this week, Mr Joyce told the Herald the airline was on track to deliver its first profit as well as meet targets set by Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon in December last year.

Mr Joyce said Jetstar had so far only chewed up $22 million of the $100 million originally set aside for its start-up. Of that, $15 million has been spent on advertising.

Where British Airways, KLM, Continental, Delta and Air Canada had failed in setting up low-cost subsidiaries before it, Mr Joyce reckons Qantas and Jetstar's success has been due to its drive to undermine Virgin Blue's cost base.

"If you go into it with these high cost levels you are going to run into trouble," he said.

Despite the rise in fuel costs, Mr Joyce said Jetstar was already well below the cost base of 8.25c per ASK (available seat kilometre) it set itself a year ago. He said Jetstar could even beat the 7.6c per ASK target set for when it has a sole model fleet of 23 Airbus 320s by mid-2006.

"We're going to beat that. Once we start bringing the A320s in that's our efficiency kick," Mr Joyce said. Last month Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey reported his airline had managed to cut its cost base by 17 per cent to 7.26c per ASK, or 12 per cent lower than Jetstar's.

But Mr Joyce contends Virgin's lower costs were helped by its average sector length being 20 per cent longer than Jetstar's. Jetstar believes this gap will close when it embarks on longer flights, such as its launch of services between Brisbane and Launceston today, expansion to Adelaide in February and a possible move to Perth later in the year.

With Jetstar's move to Perth largely predicated on the airline winning a contract to operate aircraft on behalf of QantasLink, Mr Joyce denied his airline was part of a wider Qantas play aimed at undermining its heavily unionised workforce.

Despite Qantas's sustainable future program aiming to cut $1.5 billion of costs over three years, with about 30 per cent coming from boosting labour "productivity", Mr Joyce said: "Most of the benefits that we've got are related to the fundamental ways the airline is operated.

"So, I'm not sure how people claim that this is a labour play."

As well as Jetstar's strong emphasis on turning around planes quickly - allowing it to use its aircraft more efficiently and with less fuel burned - Mr Joyce said Jetstar had managed to save costs by not using standby aircraft.

By building an airline out of the shell of the former Impulse Airlines that Qantas acquired in 2001, Mr Joyce also noted Jetstar's streamlined workforce at its Melbourne headquarters and the fact that is has far fewer full-time employees per airline than Qantas.

Jetstar noted it had "a bit over" 1000 employees for its fleet of 14 115-seat Boeing 717s and six 177-seat A320s. This compares to Virgin's 3582 employees at the end of November for its fleet of 50 177-seat and 180-seat Boeing 737s.

Mr Joyce reckons the advantages for Jetstar will increase as it builds its fleet.

But Mr Godfrey said he was sceptical of Mr Joyce's comments on becoming the cheapest run airline. "If he still believes in Santa he has a chance," he said.
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Old December 20th, 2004, 06:19 PM   #66
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Qantas wins union support for international crew base
Mark Skulley
21 December 2004
Australian Financial Review

Qantas has sealed a new enterprise agreement with its long-haul flight attendants, averting the threat of strike action over Christmas.

The Flight Attendants Association of Australia said about 72 per cent of nearly 4,000 eligible workers had voted on the deal, with 88 per cent in favour.

The secretary of the FAAA's international division, Michael Mijatov, said yesterday there was some lingering opposition over the plan to use international crew. "But we asked them [long-haul attendants] to look at the whole agreement and they've accepted this," he said .

The three-year agreement includes the standard Qantas pay offer of 3 per cent per year.

The airline is looking to save about $18 million a year by establishing a Qantas crew base in London for 400 international flight attendants.

Under the agreement, it will cap the number of international overseas-based flight attendants at 870, with about 370 such crew now based in Bangkok and Auckland.

Australia-based flight attendants will continue to have access to one flight per day to London.

About 400 members of the National Union of Workers, employed by Qantas in areas such as freight and catering, last week rejected a new enterprise agreement, even though a small number of Brisbane-based NUW workers endorsed a separate but similar agreement.

A NUW spokeswoman said the union was confident that agreement could still be reached.

The airline has also reached in-principle agreement with the Australian Services Union on a new three-year enterprise agreement offering 3 per cent a year.
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Old December 20th, 2004, 06:20 PM   #67
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OneWorld a hop away with e-ticket
Steve Creedy
21 December 2004
The Australian

QANTAS passengers can now use one e-ticket on all seven of the flying kangaroo's OneWorld alliance partners.

The airline finalised links last week with Cathay Pacific, allowing it to offer e-tickets to almost 600 destinations in the OneWorld network.

Other partners include Ireland's Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Spain's Iberia and Chile's LAN.

The International Air Transport Association has identified a move to e-tickets as a major cost-saving for airlines, estimating it will save the industry $US3 billion ($4 billion) worldwide.

The Australian carrier also praised the benefits to travellers of e-tickets, saying they could not be lost or stolen, they made check-in faster and it was easier to change bookings.

"It is an important achievement for Qantas and the OneWorld alliance," said Qantas head of sales and distribution Rob Gurney.

Qantas had also signed an $18 million deal with international electronic and systems group Thales to upgrade seven full-flight simulators.

Thales will upgrade two Boeing 747-400 simulators to the highest internationally recognised level of flight simulation.

A Boeing 767-300 machine will be upgraded to the same architecture as three recently delivered machines.

The six simulators and a third-party 747-400 facility will also have a state-of-the-art visual system fitted, a spokesman said.
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Old December 21st, 2004, 03:44 PM   #68
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Sydney Airport, Virgin Blue Enjoy Rise in Nov Passenger Traffic

SYDNEY, Dec 21 Asia Pulse - Total passenger traffic at Sydney Airport hit a record high in November, as airline capacity increased and more Australians headed overseas.

Airport manager Macquarie Airports Management Ltd said total traffic rose by 4.8 per cent compared to November 2003, when passengers numbers were boosted by the Rugby World Cup and the Jehovahs Witness World Congress.

"November was a record month for Sydney Airport in terms of both international and domestic passenger numbers with total traffic increasing," said Macquarie Airports chief executive Kerrie Mather.

Traffic was rose to 2.37 million, from 2.25 million in November 2003.

Some 1.57 million domestic passengers passed through the airport, a gain of 5.3 per cent on the same period last year.

International passenger numbers were up 3.7 per cent to 762,000.

"Australians travelling overseas in November continued to grow strongly ... primarily driven by the strong Australian dollar," Ms Mather said.

On a moving annual total basis, passenger numbers were up 11.4 per cent to 27.43 million.

Macquarie Airports, which owns 56 per cent of Sydney Airport, also holds owns 34 per cent of Aeroporti di Roma Airport in Italy and 31 per cent of Bristol and 15 per cent of Birmingham airports in the UK.

It said airport expansion had lifted total passenger traffic at Aeroporti di Roma Airport by five per cent to 2.34 million in November compared to the same month last year, while traffic at Bristol climbed 18.8 per cent to 312,000.

But Birmingham recorded a 9.5 per cent fall to 531,000 as both domestic and international passenger numbers dropped off.

Meanwhile, Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd (ASX:VBA) said the number of passengers it carried rose by 14.9 per cent in November over the same month last year.

Actual passenger traffic, as measured by revenue passenger kilometres, gained 18.4 per cent to 1.25 million.

But Virgin Blue's revenue load factor, which measures passenger kilometres against available seats, declined 6.3 points in the month to 74.9 per cent.

The airline's on-time performance was lower.

Some 88 per cent of flights departed within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time, down from 90 per cent in November last year.

Virgin Blue shares closed up three cents to $1.89 and Macquarie Airports securities gained five cents to $3.23.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 09:10 AM   #69
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Australia's Brisbane Airport Forecasts 20% Jump in Passengers

BRISBANE, Dec 22 Asia Pulse - More than 15 million people have used Brisbane Airport's domestic and international terminals so far this year, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) said today.

BAC corporate relations manager Jim Carden said unprecedented numbers of Christmas travellers in December also look set to smash the record for the busiest month ever.

He said BAC was forecasting a 20 per cent increase in passengers through Brisbane Airport this year compared to 2003.

"More planes carrying more people to and from more places have delivered a sensational Christmas present to the Queensland tourism industry," Mr Carden said.

"Brisbane Airport has never been this busy - even the taxis are struggling to keep up with demand.

"Christmas is always busy, but this year is unprecedented.

"Indicative figures show December 2004 is likely to easily be the Airports biggest month, eclipsing the record set in July this year."

During July 2004 monthly domestic figures peaked at 1.042 million, while international travellers soared to 313,892.
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 10:37 AM   #70
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Austrian Airlines Sees Growth in Australian Market

SYDNEY, Dec 23 Asia Pulse - The growing numbers of eastern European business travellers are being beckoned to Australia by Austrian Airlines, keen to ramp up its service between the two regions.

The Austria-Australia route was launched by former racing car driver Niki Lauda's Lauda Air in 1985 with one flight a week.

Lauda Air remains part of the Austrian Airlines group.

Earlier this year flights between Vienna and Australia's eastern capitals of Sydney and Melbourne went to nine services per week.

"Our first (criterion) must be to satisfy this capacity," Austrian Airlines chief executive Vagn Sorensen told AAP after the recent meeting of Star Alliance airline chief executives in Bangkok.

He said the airline's Australian traffic capacity to and from Europe was being filled at around 80 per cent.

"If it continues that way and especially if our condition is met - that is to improve the yield somehow - and we can get more business class, we can gradually improve that situation," Mr Sorensen said.

He said Austrian Airlines was open to expanding the route.

"Operating such a long route nine times a week occupies 2.5 aircraft. To step up the traffic requires another aircraft but we are willing to do it," he added.

Mr Sorensen said this was why Austrian was targeting corporate customers to make the route better known.

At this point in time only two European carriers, British Airways and Austrian Airlines, offer direct online bookings from Australia to Europe.

"Australia is a big job for us and we have increased capacity (by) 50 per cent and we have more or less the same load factors so you could not be disappointed."

He said the growth would likely come from the European end, particularly from eastern Europe where the family connections to Australia are strong and travel abroad is growing.

"I think it will come from Europe. Our market penetration is better in Australia now than in Europe," Mr Sorensen said.

"It is not big but it is rapidly growing and we are well placed to capture it and there is also a large ethnic traffic from those countries ... Vienna is well placed for that."

"All we ask for is a reciprocation of opportunities.

"We would like to have the chance to serve the travelling public between Australia and America. We think we can help grow that market.

"That's what we'd like to see.

"We also believe the less the government tries to control the product the better."
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 08:44 PM   #71
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Passengers like our airports: survey
24 December 2004
The Australian

PASSENGERS rate Australia's international airport terminals highly, but the airlines are less enthusiastic, a new report shows.

The latest annual Australian Competition & Consumer Commission quality of service report on mainland capital city airports found passengers by and large ranked the facilities at very good to excellent.

Brisbane, Perth and Sydney airports were the top scorers, closely followed by Melbourne. Adelaide was ranked satisfactory to good.

"Adelaide airport's ratings were slightly lower than the other airports, but it is currently constructing new terminal facilities," ACCC commissioner John Martin said.

Brisbane was the top rated airport by airlines, at good, followed by Melbourne (satisfactory to good), then Sydney and Perth. Canberra and Darwin ranked as satisfactory.

The airlines marked down airports for lack of check-in availability, gates, ground services and management responsiveness, but ticked the boxes for runway availability and taxiways.

Passengers were less impressed with the availability of baggage trolleys and immigration waiting times than they were by baggage reclaim and check-in waiting times.

Mr Martin said that overall, Brisbane and Melbourne airports performed strongly across the range of quality of service indicators examined, while Sydney -- the nation's busiest airport -- achieved reasonable ratings.

While Brisbane was the star performer, by a nose, Australian Customs Services rated its facilities as the worst.

The ACS marked the airport down for crowding in inspection and baggage areas and said management's approach to its concerns was poor.

"The ACS noted that growing passenger numbers was leading to crowding in the customs inspection areas, and while facilities are rated as poor, the ACS acknowledged the airport operator is making some attempt to resolve the issues," the report says.

Sydney was ACS's favourite, with a "good" rating.

The report noted that the overall results for the years since the ACCC began monitoring airports were relatively stable, with no obvious trends.

The report on pricing and costs at Australia's major airports will be released in early 2005.
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Old January 30th, 2005, 05:00 PM   #72
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Posted: 30 January 2005 1739 hrs

Virgin rejects takeover bid by Patrick Group as too low

SYDNEY : British tycoon Richard Branson rejected a takeover offer by ports and rail operator Patrick Corp. Ltd. for Virgin Blue, the discount Australian airline he founded, as being too low.

Patrick Corp, which already holds 46 per cent of Virgin Blue, launched a surprise 1.90-dollars a share bid Friday for the remainder of the airline's shares, valuing it at 1.99 billion dollars (1.54 billion US).

Branson's Virgin Group said its Swiss subsidiary, investment vehicle Cricket SA, had acquired 5.1 million more Virgin Blue shares on-market on Friday at an average price of 2.04 dollars, paying 10.1 million dollars and now held a 25.1 percent stake.

"As a 25.1 per cent shareholder, it is Virgin Group's view that Virgin Blue Holdings has much greater value than that indicated in the price being offered by Patrick Corp," the Virgin Group said in a statement.

"The airline has been a remarkable success in the Australian market, building a strong reputation for outstanding customer service at a competitive price, whilst maintaining low operational costs."

Virgin Group said it continued to support Virgin Blue, its growth prospects and future expansion plans.

"I am extremely proud of the Virgin Blue business and the great team of people who have brought real competition, genuine value and friendly air travel to the Australian people," Branson said.

Patrick Corp said Friday that its off-market offer, which is being made through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Plzen Pty Ltd, represented a 13 percent premium to Virgin Blue's January 24 closing price of 1.68 dollars and "full" value for Virgin Blue shares.

Patrick chief executive Chris Corrigan said the offer was important to Patrick shareholders because it would allow the company to take a clear majority stake in Virgin Blue.

Virgin Blue shares soared 15.56 percent on Friday to close 28 cents higher at 2.08 dollars while Patrick shares were one cent higher at 6.15 dollars.

The bid came after Virgin Blue saw its share price tumble on January 19 to a low of 1.60 after it warned its net profit for the year to March 31 would be 10-15 percent down on the previous year.

- AFP
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Old January 30th, 2005, 05:57 PM   #73
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Qantas looks abroad for staff
Steve Creedy, Aviation writer
17 January 2005
The Australian

QANTAS is planning to shift more jobs and services overseas as chief executive Geoff Dixon claims the national flag carrier can no longer afford to be an "all-Australian" business.

In a blunt warning to staff and the Australian public, Mr Dixon told The Australian the airline had no choice but to source more of its people, services and products overseas in order to remain competitive.

"We can't sit here and be all-Australian," Mr Dixon said in foreshadowing renewed confrontation with unions over cost controls and job relocation.

About 94 per cent of Qantas's 35,000 staff are Australian-based, a figure the airline claims is the highest of any global international carrier.

Based on international benchmarks, Mr Dixon's determination to improve competitiveness would result in more than 7000 jobs moving overseas. He said the airline industry was changing dramatically, with competing carriers Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific lowering costs by consistently sourcing about 30 per cent of products and services such as engineering and in-flight services from other countries.

Mr Dixon's comments come only two months after Qantas won a battle to save more than $18million a year in hotel bills and allowances by increasing the number of its London-based flight attendants from 370 to 870.

During the dispute over relocation, Qantas was accused of training 37 strike-breaking flight attendants after unions threatened to disrupt Christmas flights.

Eventually, as part of a three-year enterprise agreement, the Flight Attendants Association of Australia accepted the new 870 cap, which will result in 22 per cent of Qantas's long-haul flight attendants being based overseas. In response to Mr Dixon's latest comments, the FAAA international division secretary Michael Mijatov said Qantas was one of the world's most profitable airlines and he believed jobs should be kept in Australia.

"I'll be buggered, come the next three years, whether they're going to have any increased numbers," he said. "That's it as far as we're concerned. It has become stale and tired, this constant rhetoric about doom and gloom, while at the same time (Qantas executives) pad their pockets like there's no tomorrow."

But Mr Dixon said Qantas, which made a record profit of $648million in 2003-2004 -- making it second only to Singapore Airlines as the world's most successful airline -- had no choice but to continue to look at opportunities offshore. He said carriers restructuring in the US under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection -- abandoning pension funds and making massive unilateral cuts to wages and conditions -- would emerge leaner and meaner.

At the same time, governments in Asia were supporting airlines, and carriers were being allowed to merge in the European Union.

"To compete with that we're going to have get the lowest cost structure we can and that will mean sourcing things more and more from overseas," he said.

"It doesn't mean we'll be any less Australian and it certainly doesn't mean mass redundancies or anything like that."

The Qantas boss took aim at unions, saying a failure to negotiate on productivity improvements could restrict investment in any of the airline's business units that fell behind international benchmarks.

International flight attendants at Australian airlines have again threatened strike action over efforts to introduce new pay scales and a new roster system.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 06:52 PM   #74
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Virgin Blue - Branson challenges Corrigan
1 February 2005
Daily Telegraph

UK millionaire Richard Branson has challenged Patrick Corp to lift or scrap its bid for low cost carrier Virgin Blue, after buying shares in the market 5 per cent above the offer price.

Virgin Blue yesterday said the purchase of 5.1 million shares by Sir Richard's Switzerland-based company Cricket SA for $2.04 and $2.06 per share could make Patrick's $1.90 per share offer defunct under Australian corporations law.

Patrick went to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, seeking clarification.

"Patrick Corp believes that the section under the law referred to should not apply and is seeking confirmation as to its view from ASIC," a Patrick spokesman said yesterday.

Section 621 (30) of the Corporations Act requires that a bid be made at a price no less than the highest price paid in the four months before the offer is posted to shareholders.

This means that because Cricket bought shares for as high as $2.06 last Friday, Patrick could have to match or better the offer.

The issue pits Patrick chief executive Chris Corrigan against Sir Richard in a tug of war for the airline's shareholders.

Sir Richard, head of Virgin Group in the UK, was not informed of Patrick's intention to make the offer.

ASIC today declined to comment but would not need to do anything as there would be no breach of the law until the bid is dispatched to shareholders in about 10 days' time.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 06:58 PM   #75
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your dedicated, ill give u that. lol.

Just out of interest, why does a person from Hong Kong (i think?) care about Aust aviation?

I do enjoy reading them when i get in tho
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Old February 1st, 2005, 07:01 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by Malt
your dedicated, ill give u that. lol.

Just out of interest, why does a person from Hong Kong (i think?) care about Aust aviation?

I do enjoy reading them when i get in tho
He "cares" so long that it fuels his innate sence of insecurity and immaturity.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 07:13 PM   #77
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Actually, I like to look at aviation patterns around the world. For example, the kangaroo route is very popular and highly competitive, yet there are also high legal risks, such as economy class syndrome. At the same time, airlines are looking for new stopover routes and perhaps the next generation of aircraft won't even require a stopover anymore.

Australia is an interesting case where it benefits from the boom periods of the northern and southern hemisphere summers. Looking at the summer boom period, Americans visit Australia in the southern winter, while Australians head abroad in their southern summer (European / North American winter)? So is that 2 booms instead of a typical 1?
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Originally Posted by huaiwei
He "cares" so long that it fuels his innate sence of insecurity and immaturity.
Obviously, some people who are not capable of contributing will feel a sense of insecurity and immaturity!
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Old February 1st, 2005, 07:26 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by hkskyline
Actually, I like to look at aviation patterns around the world. For example, the kangaroo route is very popular and highly competitive, yet there are also high legal risks, such as economy class syndrome. At the same time, airlines are looking for new stopover routes and perhaps the next generation of aircraft won't even require a stopover anymore.

Australia is an interesting case where it benefits from the boom periods of the northern and southern hemisphere summers. Looking at the summer boom period, Americans visit Australia in the southern winter, while Australians head abroad in their southern summer (European / North American winter)? So is that 2 booms instead of a typical 1?


Obviously, some people who are not capable of contributing will feel a sense of insecurity and immaturity!
Actually, hkskyline is your perfect example of an insecure foreigner stuck somewhere in the bitter cold of North America, who spend their time reading and forming their opinions of the world based on media articles alone. Nothing particularly wrong with that, until his lopsided views clashes with those who happen to be from where he is criticising against.

That he is supposedly interested in aviation is actually part of his serious case of homesickness. Trying to sell his home city as a transport mecca has consumed so much of his psyche, that he goes hot under the collar everytime people from a certain city happens to demonstrate quite well that his beloved city isnt exactly quite alone up there in this regard!

So...all he could do is spam this forums with a torrent of news articles just so that he could push Singapore-related threads to the end of the 20th page in every section. Yeah...amazingly childish, but this guy has been doing this for more than 2 years...long before I was even in this forums!

If you guys dont believe me, just watch how he posts every single minute he is online. And if you think he is really "interested" in aviation, try being in a position of actually discussing with him about serious aviation topics beyond what can be gleaned from newspaper articles. You will be amazed with his level of mastery in this topic, as I had in very recent incidents!

Seriously, why would I have problems contributing? All it takes is go to any search engine, and post every single article related to aviation over here, preferable one thread per article too, so that it helps to create a whole bunch of threads nobody replies to, but at least they do push down the threads which somehow become the subject of "hate"....now seriously, why should I bother about that lame sentence?
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Old February 1st, 2005, 07:34 PM   #79
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You know, some people are interested in what's happening outside their backyard. We live in a global economy. People who don't realize this and are not willing to step out their black box should feel insecure and hence lash out at those who have made their step, because their unconscious knows they're behind.

Virgin Blue battle still up in the air
ELIZABETH KNIGHT
2 February 2005
The Sydney Morning Herald

It's easy to understand why Virgin Blue shareholders are a particularly confused subset of the Australian investment community. And who could blame them? Their shares are being bid for by one of the toughest, most astute but least generous operators in the market, Patrick Corp's Chris Corrigan, who has taken on possibly the world's greatest spin doctor, Richard Branson.

Truth has to be the first casualty in this battle.

To make matters worse there is a legal cloud over whether the offer price is $1.90 (which is what Patrick is saying) or $2.06 (which is what Branson is saying).

Branson has about 25 per cent of Virgin and Corrigan's Patrick has 45 per cent, and both are capable of doing over minority shareholders.

Despite the fact that these two are battling over Virgin, in a legal sense they are associates. And thanks to this wrinkle in the Corporations Law, Branson reckons whatever price he pays for Virgin Blue shares has to be matched by Corrigan's bid price.

Given Corrigan is bidding for all Virgin shares he doesn't own - including Branson's - this would effectively allow Branson to set the price Corrigan bids for his shares. In other words, Branson can pick up a couple of Virgin Blue shares for $3 and Corrigan has to pay that price to all Virgin shareholders.

It's crazy, and will ultimately have to be sorted out by some authority - logic would suggest in favour of Patrick.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is looking at whether Patrick can get a waiver. If not, the whole mess will be laid at the feet of the Takeovers Panel, which was set up to deal with just this sort of strange anomaly.

But let's forget the confusion over price for a minute - the fact is that Corrigan doesn't even need to make a takeover bid in order to buy out Branson's stake.

Because under the law they are considered associates, Corrigan can make an attempt to just buy any or all of Branson's stock without making the same offer to other shareholders.

Given Branson's dismissive response to Patrick's $1.90-a-share offer, it's not drawing such a long bow to assume that Patrick is after only a portion of the Virgin Blue stock - just enough to gain a bit more control.

But there is the even stranger part: Patrick could buy shares on-market, using the creep provisions, to take its stake to more than 50 per cent in a year. No need to make a bid.

In addition, if the stated objective of the offer is to get more control, this begs the question of how much more control could Corrigan exercise with 50 per cent than he already has with 45 per cent.

Patrick argues it could get more directors on the board. But all Corrigan needs to do is call a shareholder meeting and it would have the votes to do this without buying another share.

Corrigan has no real need to do any of this for operational reasons. He can take a firmer control of the management or change it if he wants.

And Corrigan rarely makes mistakes.

If you believe the spin from the Patrick camp, Corrigan has launched this bid to allow all shareholders to cash out their stock if they want to. A kind of egalitarian gesture.

The truth is Patrick is not in the business of doing favours for other companies' shareholders - and nor should it be.

Patrick and its boss Corrigan are out to take advantage of weakness in Virgin's share price to pick up as much stock as it can at a bargain price.

If Branson loses his nerve and sells out at $1.90 then this would be a bonus.

But Corrigan knows that the UK spin doctor won't take the bait at that price - which is exactly why he didn't negotiate with him to buy his stake.

And if you really want the opportunistic icing on the cake, one need look no further than the timing of the bid - right in the wake of a profit warning.

Corrigan wants to take advantage of all those people that think that Virgin has had its day and will see its financial performance continue to slide under additional competition from Jetstar.

I had long suspected that Virgin would hit the wall when Geoff Dixon ultimately drew a line in the sand with the launch of Jetstar and the dumping of capacity onto the local market.

Until then Virgin had experienced an unfettered dream run. But it's still a low-cost airline in a duopoly and it will ultimately make a reasonable return once the two airlines start to be sensible about capacity.

And to the extent that one would have doubts about Virgin's ability to make a return, the very fact that Corrigan is buying is the best evidence yet that the price/earnings multiple of 15 times implied by the bid is probably not as expensive as it sounds.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 07:36 PM   #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
You know, some people are interested in what's happening outside their backyard. We live in a global economy. People who don't realize this and are not willing to step out their black box should feel insecure and hence lash out at those who have made their step, because their unconscious knows they're behind.
I agree. As far as I know, your knowledge of the world is seriously retarded despite your travels!
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