View Full Version : Qantas prepared for turbulence

17th Oct 2002, 18:20
Fri "Melbourne Age" 18/10/02

Qantas prepared for turbulence
October 18 2002
By Geoffrey Thomas

Qantas Airways was cashed up and well prepared for any aviation downturn with the current fiscal year carrying on the positive trends of the second half of 2002, chief executive Geoff Dixon said yesterday.

Mr Dixon told a packed annual meeting at the Burswood convention centre that, subject to any external events, the airline expected the positive trends to continue for the remainder of 2003.

Last year Qantas delivered a profit before tax of $631 million, up 5.7 per cent on the previous year and net profit after tax was $428 million, up 3 per cent. But he cautioned that few companies in Australia had to deal with as many uncertainties as Qantas.

"We have had to adapt rapidly to dramatic short-term shocks and experience tells us we will need to do so again in the future," he said.

"These may be negative shocks, requiring defensive measures."

Mr Dixon said the company's recent capital-raising gave the airline greater financial depth to take rapid advantage of emerging opportunities.

"We have substantial lines of credit in the event of a prolonged downturn. We have a sophisticated fuel-hedging program to provide some cost stability in times of crisis," he said.

Chairwoman Margaret Jackson said Qantas had raised more than $1.3 billion in equity through two capital-raisings and the airline had moved rapidly over the past year to adapt to dramatically changing circumstances with the collapse of Ansett. "But the company has also made great progress in its long-term objective of securing a strong and stable future."

Key to this strategy were the segmenting of the flying businesses with such operations as the low-fare international airline Australian Airlines, growth of non-flying businesses such as Qantas Flight Catering, and the extension of international alliances.

On the pending equity alliance with Air New Zealand, Ms Jackson said discussions were continuing but she could not comment further.

She fended off criticism from the Australian Shareholders Association which opposed a deferred share plan for executives.

"The relative success of Qantas over the past year has not been a matter of luck. It's been about performance at all levels of the company," she said.

"The board is seeking to deliver fair incentives for performance, as well as transparency for shareholders," she said.

Ms Jackson told the meeting the airline had paid Qantas staff $54 million via a special 4 per cent bonus payment related to the wage-restraint agreement and $30 million for shares in the airline.

Referring back to the performance of the executives and staff, she told shareholders that since the float in 1995, Qantas' total shareholder return, including share-price performance and dividends, was 267 per cent.

"This compares favourably with the average performance of airlines including Singapore, American and Lufthansa, which achieved total shareholder return of negative 43 per cent and the Australian market average of 44 per cent," she said.

Ms Jackson also rejected accusations from staff unions that Qantas was going to increase non-executive directors fees by 36 per cent.

"It is nothing like that. We need to increase the amount available for additional directors on subsidiary boards," she said.

Ms Jackson added that although airlines operate on wafer-thin margins most of the time, in the worst year in airline history Qantas had delivered a strong result.

"That is good news in itself, and a sign that the company is primed to succeed whatever circumstances may prevail."

All the resolutions put to shareholders were carried overwhelmingly.

At a press conference after the annual meeting, Mr Dixon said he did not expect that the tragic events in Bali would have an impact on the airline as the destination only represented 1 per cent of the airline's capacity. For the 2001-02 year Qantas declared a fully franked final dividend of 17 cents a share.

Yesterday the airline's shares closed one cent down at $3.75.

Fri "The Australian"

After take-off, Qantas still ascending
By Steve Creedy
October 18, 2002

IMPROVEMENTS in Qantas's second-half results last year were likely to continue for the rest of the current financial year, chief executive Geoff Dixon said yesterday.

Mr Dixon told the airline's annual meeting in Perth both load and yields had continued into the first three months of this year.

"Subject to external events, we expect these trends will continue for the remainder of 2002-03," Mr Dixon said.

Second-half improvements helped Qantas record a net profit of $428 million in 2001-02.

Mr Dixon pointed to the Bali bombing as another example of dramatic short-term shocks that meant Qantas needed to be "ready for anything".

He said the recent capital raising gave the airline even greater financial depth to exploit opportunities.

He said the airline had substantial lines of credit that could allow it to change aircraft deliveries. The company also had a sophisticated fuel-hedging program that would provide cost stability.

Chairman Margaret Jackson said talks about taking a stake in Air New Zealand were continuing.

"While constructive discussions are continuing, no agreement or commitment has been entered into at this time and any agreement would be conditional upon a number of approvals," she said.

Ms Jackson said Qantas was continuing to segment its flying business and nurture non-flying businesses, and remained committed to internal alliance relationships.

The fact that Qantas had delivered a strong result was "good news in itself and a sign that the company is primed to succeed whatever circumstances may prevail", she said.

Shareholders voted to approve a deferred share plan that will award bonuses to Mr Dixon and chief financial officer Peter Gregg to buy up to 340,000 shares and 210,000 shares, respectively.

The scheme will apply to 860 Qantas executives who will be able to sacrifice up to 50 per cent of their annual bonuses to buy shares at market value.

They also voted to approve a 36 per cent increase in the total amount paid to non-executive directors, despite a call by seven airline unions to reject the proposal.


17th Oct 2002, 21:43
So Margeret Jackson really thinks luck has played no part in swelling the coffers, eh!
I must have been on a different planet for the last twelve months or so...:eek:

17th Oct 2002, 22:53
You make your own luck..........