Alan Joyce: alliance with Etihad vs Emirates like "being offered a bike before a BMW"

By David Flynn, August 8 2013
Alan Joyce: alliance with Etihad vs Emirates like

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has compared an alliance with Etihad ahead of Emirates as "being offered a bike before a BMW".

Joyce delivered the colourful zinger today at Sydney's Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, barely 24 hours after Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan stood on the same stage and outlined his own airline's ambitions for the Australian market.

As Joyce tells it, Etihad Airways proposed an alliance to Qantas almost a decade ago but "the numbers didn't stack up".

Etihad is now partner and part-owner of Qantas challenger Virgin Australia, with plans to ramp up its Australian presence in 2014 including new premium airport lounges, more flights plus Airbus A380 services to Sydney and Melbourne.

In 2010, following Etihad's approval from Australia's competition regulator to enter an alliance with Virgin, Joyce observed that  "we looked at the numbers (of an Etihad partnership) and we didn't believe it could be economic."

In today's speech Joyce re-iterated his focus on bringing Qantas' international operations back into the black, with the aim of returning to profitability in 2016 after last year's $450m loss for the overseas arm.

That's timed for the introduction of Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner into the Qantas fleet, following this year's debut of the 787-8 with low-cost offshoot Jetstar.

Read: Qantas, Jetstar and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner: what you need to know

"The problem child always gets the maximum attention" Joyce joked of QFi, although he proudly added that Qantas is one of the few airlines in the world which flies to every continent.

Rising fuel costs remain one chink in the Red Roo's armour, however, with Joyce reporting that Qantas' fuel bill "was $4 billion last year, and we're a $16 billion business".

But you can't get everything right the first time, Joyce admitted. "My management strategy is to get it right 80% of time, admit when you get the rest wrong, fix it and learn from it".

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2013

Total posts 28

So if Etihad is a bike, and Emirates is a BMW...what does that make Qantas?

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

A pennyfarthing - all the show of a big wheel, surveying the world from way on high, but highly inefficient, unstable and destined for quirky antique status!

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 464

To answer that a Holden Caprice or a Public Tranport Bus LOL.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2013

Total posts 33

a skate board

LOL! Good one kim!


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

I honestly think that comment is a cheap shot that's unworthy of Alan Joyce or any CEO of a major airline. No matter what you think of Joyce or Qantas, I might expect to hear this kind of 'trash talk' from RyanAir. I know Joyce is actuallty taking a swipe at Virgin via Etihad, and he is probably thinking Emirates' Tim Clark will be grinning too, but the "bike instead of a BMW" line is just cheap and makes Joyce and by extension Qantas look unprofessional.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 171

I agree with you there, it was a cheap shot that doesn't look good from QANTAS as that hasn't been there style in the past.

That sort of talk usually motivates your competitor more than anything, so bad move in my opinion.


04 May 2011

Total posts 22

Another reason why Alan Joyce is a tool, his comment is about the same level as his skill for industrial relations and staff morale.

I avoid flying Qantas wherever possible now (previously they had 100% of my travel)  and gladly give my business to business to the Virgin (Group) and their those that value clients 


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Platinum

01 Jul 2013

Total posts 13

He who laughs last laughs loudest!!!.......

Alan Joyce should think before he opens his mouth. VA has manged to establish a 'virtual' network without the significant overheads that their international competitor have to suffer as a result of thier commitment to a significant fleet ownerhirship. I think it very unlikley Q will be be back in the black in a little under 2 years.....

Watch this space Qantas...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

A virtual network that means VA flies nowhere, and adhoc loungearrangements... as well as codeshare fares that are way more expensive than booking direct with the real carrier.

Anyhow appearas QF is shrinking back to almost a virtual intl carrier.

But to be honest with high labour charges, expensive airports where you need to base your fleets, and poor depreciation policies, who would want to operate an Australian international airline.

Has anyone ever considered this faux rivalry between Qantas and Virgin is just a show for the public and the ACCC?

They both need each other to justify their strategy and existence. We get taken for a ride unless we actively pursue options that challenges their duopoly.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

31 Jan 2012

Total posts 107

Dont BMW make bikes. I hear thery are really good at the Dakha Rally and go well in the desert.

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

Sounds like Joyce is full of it (as usual). For starters where was he a decade ago. Just joined Jetstar? And how can the economics of 10 years ago be relevant to the current context? QF actually had an international airline back then, Etihad had yet to experience its growth phase, etc.

What a dumb and derogratory and ridiculous comment.

Glad I was out of the environs of the SYD Four Seasons before the dopey one made his appearance and onto the delights of a weekend of quick fire travel of Emirates A380 first (impeccable), Air New Zealand business 777-300 (excellent) and a domestic VA (great value).

Cue the usual pro-Qantas personal attacks...

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