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QANTAS - WHERE TO NOW?

Old 27th Mar 2012, 23:18
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QANTAS - WHERE TO NOW?

Recent events concerning the airline business we call Qantas have been very unusual and the internal gyrations between various internal business divisions; long haul, domestic, intrastate and support interesting. The national interest in Qantas as a matter of national interest is fascinating and lack of commercial interest by airline customers strange.

Now if you look at the current attempts to make Qantas a profitable international conglomerate not a domestic business and you might be excused for thinking it is perhaps incompatible with what Qantas International once was or is , especially in the nostalgic mind's eye of its many customer memories of their flight experience.

Now, I confess I have never flown for Qantas or applied to fly for them or work with them, so I have always looked on as another member of the industry and public. I like most Australians have flown with them a lot. I must also confess that the form of aerial travelling shiftwork offered by Qantas was never to my liking. None the less it seems for reasons nostalgic we all seem to own or think we own Qantas in a way we are attached to other national symbols, such as Anzac day. Recently I have had cause of a personal nature to rummage about through picture archives, and other bits and pieces of airline memorabilia of airlines and Australian Aviation History. I have looked at timetables and video clips and worked my way through a number of operations manuals for aeroplanes long gone. After a while you develop a feel for the journey that Qantas has been on for many years and its association to the wider public and our own memories of Qantas. So recent years and more recent events and new raise the Question - Qantas Where to Now? This is an outsiders view.

I think once all Australians looked at Qantas as Australia's Airline, we had purchased an emotional ticket in the well being of Qantas, what they did, where they went and the aeroplanes they had. Qantas and its endeavours were part of the national psyche. But going to and fro from Australia there was not a lot of choice and the others were mere flavours of the same theme but from different places; American, Kiwi, Singaporean, Thai, Japanese and the odd European. The Qantas brand offered a kind of Australian certainty in a fast changing world and one that was chic and smart at times. What changed?

Once, Qantas was called an Empire Airway, then it became Australia's Overseas Airline, then Australia's International Airline, then the Spirit of Australia. Internationally it progressed from flying boats, DC-3s through the Constellation era into the 707 and then the 747 and 767. Qantas grew holding a tight grasp of the journeys to and from Australia and the places Australians were flying to. Always a government owned business enterprise despite its foundations in outback Queensland it was a flag for the country and embodied the safe success of air travel's development and growth. So the country and who came and went from it changed.

Fleet wise Qantas International was always a small player by most international comparison. The merger of Trans Australian Airlines (TAA) into the Qantas Group was seen as a good idea at the time but the domestic side always had a different culture and history than the international side. That common history and culture makes business's work and makes people want to work for them. It appears however that the overall success of the domestic side of the house hid some grim realities unleashed by Labour under Hawke and Keating and then the deregulation of the Australia-International market which created a whole new series of challenges for Qantas, that for a while they seemed able to manage. So the political and aviation policy environment changed.

The 80's through to post 2000 changed the airline business forever, mass market travel and tourism travel and sheer world population growth fuelled a phenomenal increase in air transport across the world. More people travelled more often to more places. Air travel became common place and routine. You have to have an edge like the Emirates do to play above your weight in the world of international air transport. Market size wins all in that game, so the market(s) changed.

Gyrations in the world of finance, resources and national economies have been subjected to unprecedented boom conditions and now an unprecedented bust. So the world of money changed.

Now Australia's airline has to stand side by side with all the others to attract the customers attention and loyalty and it has to do that in a world of globalised business, shifting centres of wealth and influence and the competing demands of nearly every place somewhere on the planet for tourism.

So, where to now for Qantas? I know what I remember about Qantas but I can find none of it in the current airlines experience. I cannot think of a single thing about Qantas that would now make me buy a Qantas ticket over another carrier or pay a premium to do so. Ten years ago I would have chosen Qantas first intenationally and split the difference domestically to be fair but now I cannot.

So to answer my question, where to now? the answer is in how you make Qantas unique again? and can you?
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Old 27th Mar 2012, 23:25
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As the bloody CEO you could start by actually investing in qantas rather than bleeding it to death.
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Old 27th Mar 2012, 23:43
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Or you could have the current Qantas CEO and Board bleed to death. Now that would be a really good start!!
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 00:18
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Too late..

I honestly think it is too late to save the patient. With the cutting back of services to Europe it will take an enormous effort to recover. I suspect this was their plan anyway, there would be no ability to go back.

It is very sad to see the brand trashed, such a valuable international asset, now being relegated to a domestic role.
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 00:44
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Problems always have solutions and the future of Qantas, as it is remembered, is no different.

What would be different would be the willingness of Government,Management and the Unions to actually agree on any solution put forward by a consortium of investors wanting to invest in Qantas - not Jetstar.

There are Investment Groups & other Airlines that think Qantas Airways Limited has a lot to offer, but simply don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to fight with Government, Management and Unions seemingly more interested in the next election, the next bonus and staying in office.

Without a truck load of fresh capital, expect Qantas’ Asia/Europe operation will continue to shrink.
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 01:45
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close down qantas and start a new airline called ANSETT.
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 21:37
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A lot of our passengers are telling us that they want to fly with us but can't, because we don't go where they want to go. Passengers on board are still nostaligic for Qantas, what really suprises me is just how loyal our existing customers are. Passengers regularly tell me they are onboard because of the guy up front flying the plane. We definitely need new management, I can't believe our existing top guys are still there. It seems the bad decisions they keep making with Long Haul are deliberate. No one shrinks a brand to grow a company. I suspect insiders - as in our ex ceo - are still standing by to try and make a takeover and cut the business up for profits. On the plus we do have a lot of great staff, who do care, and are very loyal despite all thats happened. And we have a lot of loyal customers still, more than I would expect given the events of the past 6 months. A lot of customers do make derogatory remarks onboard about a certain Irish person. A lot of them seem to realise what is happening to us.
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 22:52
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Everything would be a lot clearer if the leprechaun or one of his management gerbils would outline at least to the staff some sort of direction for QF.

I swear, it's like a rudderless ship......

Will someone please lead from the front? QF needs the guy Mel Gibson played in "We were Soldiers"
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Old 28th Mar 2012, 23:55
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LHLisa, interesting contribution. I agree with your point about Qantas not going where the passengers want to go, that would be an accurate assessment. I am also sure loyal and quote 'existing' customers have an affection for the company's product and operation, particularly professional aircrew.

My experience of the Qantas product goes back a long way and I have flown as a passenger in anything Qantas flew from the early 1950''s which means I have been in the PBY, the Connie, the Electra, the DC-4, the 707, the 747 and the 767 all international flights. Domestically all the NG series 737's and then back to 727's, DC-9's, DC-6B with TAA and Australian. The 707 and the Connie are both standout passenger experiences, both were comfortable, had great engine sounds and you were well looked after in the cabin. Going to a 747 mean a whole different travel experience and very few have done it well, well except all do 1st class the same, very well.

Maybe it is simply the freshness of the travel experience which made it different from a customer point of view, routine is routine after all, with everyone else doing it well it is hard to differentiate your product in the market, unless you were a pioneer route operator or legacy operator but that soon passes, did for Pan Am, did for BOAC and Japan Airlines.

I also agree with the point of Jetstar being a drain on management imagination and interest to the detriment of the international side. It is fine to build Jetstar as a business, after all it is what a large segment of the travel market are happy with but not at the detriment of the international side or as a play to the side on the domestic market. To compete against yourself domestically is crazy, you could get the same no frills service and a ride on a redtail and save a lot of paint.

The sad part is the people who are responsible for the company do not read PPRuNe or consider the points and debates had here some time, if they did they might learn a lot.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 02:01
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G.P. A very good overview, I like you, never flew for Qantas, a lot of my friends did and loved every minute of it as did their passengers. But in this world of Micro Economics and Globalisation things have changed and will never again be the same, Qantas will most likely be another Vegemite, close to our hearts but not really Australian.

Over the years Qantas have made some very poor descissions and are now paying the cost with a very old fleet, high fares and average service and as such are no longer competitive.

Like most Australians, when I travel, my Airline of choice must have a modern fleet, the best fare structure, excellent service and a good safety record "and that aint Qantas" and that is a fact of life albeit a very disapointing one.
Oldie.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 03:32
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I know this has been mentioned countless times. But i dont think Qantas would be in this current situation if they had bought the 777 10 years ago.
It also doesnt help when Jetstar are getting the 787's before QF.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 04:06
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Grrreattt, another Qantas thread

Perhaps the mods can merge them all
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 04:22
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It is a little difficult to NOT have another Qantas thread in the down under area of PPRuNe.
Or should Qantas talk be in the African area, or the helicopter zone??
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 04:56
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I'd say %60 of the QF threads are all the same. (Alan Joyce bashing). Not that I don't agree or that it isn't deserved by any means, it's just that there's so many threads of the same nature that perhaps they should be merged.


The way QF is going, some of the African airlines probably provide a better product anyway, so perhaps it should go into the African section as you suggested.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 05:24
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The way QF is going, some of the African airlines probably provide a better product anyway
I am the first to line up and have a bash at the Alan Joyce piñata, but having paxed on QF long haul economy (B747) for the first time in years last week, I was absolutely impressed. I have holed up in J class for years now and as such was dreading 14 hrs down the back of the jet. The cabin was new (refurbed B744), the crew were fantastic, the service was great and the crew were out in the cabin at least once an hour with water, hot chocolate, sandwiches, fruit, cheese & biscuits etc.

So as much bashing goes on from those who presumably haven't tried the product recently, I really couldn't fault the experience.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 06:01
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I have tried the product recently, quite regularly in fact. The product is very hit and miss. Some flights are a great experience with new or re-furbished aircraft, and others are crap.

The problem is it's the bad experiences that most passengers remember, not the good ones.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 06:54
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Havick:

The problem is it's the bad experiences that most passengers remember, not the good ones.
There are rarely "good" flying experiences these days, we instead judge what is "least bad".

That is a function of travel to airport + airport experience + flight + airport experience + travel to destination.

Virtually none of it is "fun" anymore unless you are a first time traveller, and the gouging, security theatre and sheer inconvenience of the major airports almost guarantees a rotten time without even considering such things as delays, bogans and lost bags.

My preferred mode of travel now focuses on not more than Twelve hours flying, then a sleepover, then onwards to somewhere in Europe that I can catch a train. I will not fly into any British airport at any price - and America you can completely forget about.

...Unless someone else is paying for valet parking, the lounge and a business class seat.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 07:08
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To my mind the 'transformation" of the Qantas brand is at the behest of the Board. It is the board that appoints the CEO and it is the board that ensures the CEO is taking the product where the board thinks it should go.

For my money it is not the current CEO who's steering the ship, he's just the monkey, you need to look at the organ grinder to find out who has the plan.

When Ansett died Qantas where in a remarkable position with staggering opportunity for company growth and shareholder wealth, looking at the Qantas of today one could not help but think that only a deliberate and systematic destruction of the brand in a deliberate attempt to negate the unions and their demands must have been made. I can only guess but the boards background of non union negation must have played a part in their longer term thinking.

They had a 'vision' for Qantas that did not included accepted Australian wages and conditions, the only way to bypass those conditions was to bypass the Qantas brand and invent another airline with a methodology and cost base more sympathetic to the boards ideal.

If we had Chapter 11 in Australia then I'm sure the board would have taken that option as demonstrated by their peers in the US.

Last edited by Flyingblind; 29th Mar 2012 at 07:53.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 07:43
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Flyingblind,

You have summed it up totally, 100% agree
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 08:23
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Flyingblind

I assume you think that Qantas could be turned round, with it's current cost base and industrial agreements intact, if only the CEO had 'vision'?
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