View Full Version : Cost no factor in Qantas rescue missions: Dixon

1st Nov 2002, 18:26
Sat "Melbourne Age"

Cost no factor in Qantas rescue missions: Dixon
November 2 2002
By Stephen Dabkowski

Qantas' Bali rescue missions last month cost the airline "tens of millions of dollars".

Chief executive Geoff Dixon said yesterday the decision to send in empty jets to help ferry Australians out of Bali after the bombings on October 12 was justified, and Qantas would take the cost "on the chin". "We didn't have any choice; it was the right thing to do," he said.

Mr Dixon used a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne to dispel the view that Qantas was becoming a financial juggernaut: "Despite what you might have read, we're not a heavyweight (in global aviation). We're punching above our weight, but we're not a heavyweight.

"There is a view around since the collapse of Ansett last year that Qantas has moved up to the top of the food chain. Although we have close to an 80 per cent share of the domestic market, on the heavily trafficked trunk routes we have nothing like that figure."

In a wide-ranging address, Mr Dixon said that:

•Qantas was examining starting direct flights to Dallas and Chicago as part of an expansion of services to the United States.

•The newly launched Australian Airlines would have a second base, this time in a southern capital, by May.

•He hoped negotiations over Qantas taking an equity stake in Air New Zealand would be resolved soon.

Mr Dixon said Qantas still faced cost pressures, despite recently announcing an annual profit of $630 million.

He was particularly scathing of increased landing charges at Australian airports. "In Australia, charges at major deregulated airports have increased by between 40 per cent and 130 per cent over the past year," he said.

He even advanced theories about why it might be happening: "There is the view, and I'm not going to subscribe to it, that they (the private buyers of the airports) paid too high a price."

He said other cost burdens were also hurting airlines: "The air-traffic services suppliers, the computer reservations system providers and the aircraft and parts manufacturers all collected bigger margins than airlines.

"This tells us that we need to strive to avoid the mistakes of the past that have put airlines in this position as the plankton of the industry. You all know plankton get eaten."

Mr Dixon said there were still too many airlines in the world to make a decent return, so there was more consolidation ahead.