Qantas to launch a premium Asian airline?

By danwarne, May 13 2011
Qantas to launch a premium Asian airline?

Qantas may not be calling Australia home forever, if rumours pan out that it plans to launch a premium airline based in Asia.

CEO Alan Joyce softened the ground for the move when he warned very bluntly that Qantas' international arm was slowly dying.

The strength of Joyce's comments were a surprise to the industry.

"There is a real question mark over the viability of Qantas International," Joyce said at the time.

"We have set up a taskforce headed by one of our executives, Lesley Grant, to explore options that will invigorate the business, generate new and profitable markets, and protect our jobs and assets," Joyce announced.

"It is time we looked at opportunities to become a great global airline."

Major newspapers have reported in recent days that Qantas will establish a new airline based in Asia to claim a share of business from Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines -- though it's not clear where it will be based.

According to the Australian Financial Review (paywalled link) the airline will be based in Singapore, with up to 20 aircraft flying in and out of there.

Melbourne's The Age newspaper, on the other hand, reports suspicions from the long haul pilots union that it will be likely based in Malaysia, so that Qantas could most easily do short hops to a hub in China for access to the booming Chinese domestic travel market, as well as onward flights to Europe.

The Associated Press managed to extract a comment from Qantas -- that it refused to deny that it was launching an airline based in Asia.

"Qantas has previously indicated that our international business has not been performing to expectations, our market share has fallen in recent years and we need to relook at this area of the business,” the airline said in a statement to AP.

“A project team has been established to look at Qantas’ international product and service, possible new routes and ways to reinvigorate our offering."

However, it is also possible the move is a tactic to force Australian unions to back down. Qantas has a long history of being 'just about' to move operations elsewhere, in order to extract government and union concessions.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

In two minds about this... I think they would be stupid to go up against the Asian legacies, but I do think that a limited operation to allow them to branch out into Asia could work quite well...

But I don't want to fly to Beijing or Seoul via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur - I want to fly direct, which is Qantas' biggest issue... Hard to see this working in the face of the competition except to secondary cities that require a stop anyway...

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