The Government has approved the sale of 49% of Qantas to overseas investors after securing a deal to protect jobs, regional air services and itself from damaging fallout ahead of the next election. “If the sale goes ahead, I want to reassure our loyal customers that we will still call Australia home,” CEO Geoff Dixon said. “Primarily in our marketing campaigns.”
Dixon pointed out that the airline’s new stance was even more true to the spirit of Peter Allen, who, while calling Australia home, based himself permanently overseas.
He reassured his staff that a number of workers will find themselves considerably better off after the sale. “I know I will be,” he said. “And so will all the members of the Qantas family that have a generous share options package.”
The other sticking point over the deal is the airline’s frequent flyer package. Dixon has promised that there will be no change in the current arrangements. “We looked carefully at this, and we’re confident that any new owner will not be able to strip back our programme any further,” he said. “I want to promise our loyal customers that they will still receive access to our most uncomfortable seats whenever there’s absolutely no chance we can sell them.”
The Government imposed conditions on the sale is to guard against potential conflicts of interest, as new part-owner Macquarie Bank owns Sydney Airport. But the bank denies there is a conflict. “We want people to catch our cabs on our roads to our airport and fly our airline,” The bank’s CEO Allan Moss said. “If anything, we see that as an alignment of interest.”
Moss said that its competitors’ concerns would be alleviated in the long term when every single one of them had been bought out by Macquarie.
While there is still wide concern over the deal, Qantas has already won significant public support by promising that the first employees moved offshore will be its children’s choir.