Qantas boss Alan Joyce predicts Virgin and Rex won’t both survive post-pandemic battle

Qantas boss Alan Joyce says Australia still only has room for two major airline groups and it is unlikely both Virgin Australia and new rival Regional Express (Rex) will survive the post-pandemic aviation dogfight.

Mr Joyce said in an interview on Wednesday that country airline Rex launching flights between Sydney and Melbourne in March would spark fierce competition on the busy route.

Rex will start Sydney-Melbourne services in March.

Rex will start Sydney-Melbourne services in March. Credit:Robert Pearce

“My personal view is that this market has never sustained three airline groups and it probably won’t into the future,” he told an online event hosted by Reuters.

“You can be guaranteed that Qantas will be one of them – it’s who else is going to be in the market place post this and into the future is going to be interesting.”

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Qantas turnaround comes with a lingering hangover for Alan Joyce

It is equally astonishing that an airline that was bleeding cash at the rate of $40 million a week during peak-virus is anticipating it will be cashflow positive in the second half of the 2021 financial year (to June 2021).

The bottom line result will still be a statutory loss in 2021 – the non-cash item of depreciation will be in part responsible and additional redundancy costs will also kick in, thus ensuring the result will be inked in red.

And this degree of financial recovery will be achieved without any contribution from its international flying division.

As Qantas sees it, the airline is now out of the intensive care unit but the financial rehabilitation will be a long process.

And this applies particularly to the airline’s balance sheet. Since the start of the pandemic Qantas has raised around $2.7 billion in gross debt some of which has been used to pay off other debt and it is currently sitting on net debt of $5.9 billion even after a $1.4 billion equity raising.

Still, Joyce is planning to add another $500 million to the group’s liquidity buffer — just as a contingency. So Joyce’s position could be best characterised as one of cautious optimism.

He cannot afford to approach the airline’s prospects based on the assumption the recovery will move in a straight line.

Recent history has clearly demonstrated that the risks of viral spot fires are real and the responses from state governments to close borders have thrown a spanner in plans to re-open the skies.

As of next week, when Western Australia removes the wall to the rest of the country, the federation will return but it can’t be relied on.

Therefore, Joyce’s operational and financial update was based on how it is looking at this point.

Qantas and its customers will have to wait a while longer for the promised non-stop east coast flights to London and New York on board the Airbus A350-1000.

Qantas and its customers will have to wait a while longer for the promised non-stop east coast flights to London and New York on board the Airbus A350-1000.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Thanks in large part to the opening of Queensland and Victoria, Qantas’ capacity is up to 68 per cent for the month of December and will rise to 80 per cent in the three months from January to March.

Joyce says that in the first six months of calendar year 2021 the process of balance sheet repair will begin. But realistically tackling debt in a meaningful way can’t begin until the international division takes off — which is slated to happen in the middle of next year.

Only then will Qantas even begin to dust off the Sunrise plan to run non-stop services from Australia’s east coast to New York and London. Even if Sunrise is revisited it will take three to four years to achieve take-off.

Realistically with balance sheet repair at the top of the to-do list, Qantas’s capital expenditure plans would be towards the bottom. Where resumption of dividends sits is unclear.


The more immediate concern for Qantas is how the new-look Virgin tackles the market. It is a little early to see where Virgin’s fare pricing will land but its cost base is starting to take form with news this week it has negotiated its enterprise bargaining agreements.

Joyce makes no secret of the fact that he will be looking to the industry’s various unions to match any deals Virgin has extracted from its workforce.

Virgin’s time in administration allowed it to significantly cut its cost base, which will allow it to undercut Qantas on price.

The good news is that Virgin 2.0 is a smaller airline with less capacity and a reduced route structure.

Joyce’s challenge is to improve on its current 70 per cent market share. It has already poached 25 major corporate accounts from Virgin but the real prize for either airline is the SME market which make up the bulk of corporate travellers.

Joyce says the business market has come back quite strongly since the Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane (aka the golden triangle) has reopened. But it will need to increase the share on these routes to offset an overall decline in business travel that has resulted from the popularity of virtual business meetings.

In the business market, Zoom will be as fierce a competitor as Virgin or Rex.

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Barnaby Joyce, Llew O’Brien harassed by ‘Irish backpackers’ at Canberra pub

Barnaby Joyce and the Deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien were forced to stage a strategic retreat from a Canberra pub on Sunday night after the pair said they were harassed by “Irish backpackers”.

The former deputy prime minister and his friend Mr O’Brien, a former Queensland cop, deny being thrown out of the pub.

However, the pair have revealed they were forced to make a swift exit before matters escalated with a group of “loud” Irish backpackers.

“No, no, it was certainly nothing to do with me,” Mr Joyce told

“Someone was being rude to Llew. What happened (was) there were Irish backpackers and they were being loud and I thought, ‘Let’s get out of here’.”

RELATED: Barnaby lashes ‘stupid, vindictive’ post

Asked why the Irish backpackers were being rude to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Joyce replied, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Bye!”

It’s not the first time that Mr Joyce has run into colourful characters in pubs. Three years ago, he called in the Australian Federal Police after he knocked a man’s hat from his head after accusing the individual of “stalking” him during a by-election.

According to the local newspaper The Northern Daily Leader, the exchange took place at the Graman Hotel near Inverell when Mr Joyce was confronted with accusations about “family matters”.

The Civic Pub in Braddon confirmed there was a fresh incident on Sunday night but a barman who spoke to said he wasn’t completely across the details but offered to get in touch with staff who were on duty at the time.

The Braddon pub, situated in Londsdale St, is situated just a two minute walk from Canberra’s famous “rainbow roundabout”, which was painted in rainbow colours to celebrate the passage of same sex marriage laws.

RELATED: ‘There are others’: Joyce’s shock sex claim

It’s also walking distance to the Braddon apartment once owned by Mr Joyce’s partner Vicki Campion, his former press secretary, who was famously photographed outside the inner-city home by The Daily Telegraph while secretly pregnant with his child.

The photographs sparked international headlines after it was revealed the deputy prime minister had left his wife, fallen in love with his former press secretary and was expecting a baby.

His mate, renegade Nationals MP Llew O’Brien, was elected Deputy Speaker in February after quitting the Nationals’ party room following a clash with leader Michael McCormack.

He then accepted Labor’s nomination for Deputy Speaker in an attempt to deny the government’s endorsed candidate, the Victorian MP Damian Drum.

In a secret ballot of MPs in the House of Representatives, Nationals MPs defected to vote for Mr O’Brien in a ballot he won by 75 votes to 67.

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Joyce, Andrews meet over plan for Qantas to call Melbourne home

Mr Joyce also toured Melbourne Airport on Wednesday to scout out potential locations for Qantas’ operations. Qantas has said it is looking to move its Brisbane-based heavy aircraft maintenance facilities, which employ 750 workers, as well as its flight training simulators currently based in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr Andrews, whose government this week unveiled a $49 billion budget spending spree to create 400,000 jobs over the next five years and drag it out of its COVID-19 recession, said in September he would pitch aggressively for Qantas to call Victoria home.

Dan Andrews said in September he was keen to get Qantas to call Victoria home.

Dan Andrews said in September he was keen to get Qantas to call Victoria home.Credit:Paul Jeffers

“We think that we have a very attractive offer to make and we’ll work through that to try and have as many jobs as we possibly can in our city and state,” Mr Andrews said at the time, adding his proposal would cover both office and engineering jobs.

It is not clear whether Victoria has made a formal proposal to Qantas nor what the scope of any such proposal is. A spokesman for Mr Andrews did not comment further before deadline on Thursday.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said he was proud to be contributing to Victoria’s efforts to lure Qantas south, with his airport estate being more than six times the size of Melbourne’s CBD and already home to commercial offices, hotels and logistics providers.


“We think there’s a really strong proposition that would be incredibly hard to match anywhere else,” Mr Strambi said. “The most recent commitments to airport rail underscore just how highly Victoria values aviation.”

Qantas is also talking to Queensland, South Australia and NSW sate governments about possible incentives packages. The airline has flagged one option could be to consolidate its office, training and engineering facilities at the new Western Sydney Airport, due to open in 2026.

The airline had expected to conclude its property review by the end of this year, but is now likely to announce a decision in early 2021.

Qantas’ decision to review its office footprint was prompted by the need to cut costs in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has devastated airlines globally and seen the Australian carrier announce around 8000 redundancies, or close to a third of its workforce.

State government incentives to lure employment to the state is not uncommon. Victoria gave retailer David Jones a taxpayer handout to move 820 head office jobs from Sydney to Melbourne in 2016, while a bidding war for Virgin Australia’s head office after it went into administration in April ended with Queensland making a $200 million investment to keep it based in Brisbane.

The Queensland government also gave Qantas financial support two years ago to build its new $35 million flight school in Toowoomba.

Meanwhile, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in September that the state would offer “every assistance to Qantas so they can keep as many of their employees as possible in NSW”.

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Qantas to require coronavirus vaccine before travel, Alan Joyce confirms

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be a non-negotiable condition of international air travel, according to the Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Anti-vaxxers will be grounded in the brave new world, with Mr Joyce confirming vaccination will be a requirement to fly internationally.

Mr Joyce has repeatedly warned that international air travel won’t resume until there’s a vaccine available for staff and travellers, but on Monday night he went a step further, telling A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw that as soon as a vaccine becomes available it will be a condition of travel.

“For international travellers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft,’’ he said.

“Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity.”

RELATED: No new local COVID-19 cases in NSW for 16th day in row

RELATED: Are promising vaccines safe and will they be available in Australia?

RELATED: Hint when Australia’s international air travel could open again

If anti-vaxxers want to try alternative airlines, Mr Joyce predicted they won’t be travelling far.

“I think that’s going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe,’’ he said.

The revelation prompted ABC presenter Tracey Holmes to ask on Twitter: “Hello all my legal friends … is this legal?.”

Another journalist, The Australian’s cricket writer Peter Lalor, replied, “I hope so.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously suggested vaccination will be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it” before walking those comments back in recent months.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis,” he said in August.

But just hours later, Mr Morrison told listeners on Sydney radio station 2GB that the Government would not make vaccination mandatory.

“It’s not going to be compulsory to have the vaccine,” he said.

“I mean, we can’t hold someone down and make them take it.”

The Qantas boss Alan Joyce is hoping to be back up to 60 per cent of the old business by Christmas as domestic flights resume between Sydney and Melbourne.

“If we can get Melbourne and Sydney back to where it was pre-COVID that will be 3000 people that didn’t have a role, were stood down, were working at Woolworths, somewhere else that are working for the airline again,’ he said.

Mr Joyce revealed 25,000 seats sold within 48 hours as soon as travel between NSW and Victoria opened up this month.

But it could be a long time before travel resumes to COVID-19 hot spots.

“Unfortunately with the levels of the virus in the United States and in Europe, we’re not going to see operations to those destinations in any real strength until we see a vaccine being rolled out, which is likely towards the end of 2021,” Mr Joyce said.

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Barnaby Joyce shot down by Emma Husar in fiery Q and A on sex and politics

It was an episode about respect for women. but as one viewer highlighted, Q&A panellist Barnaby Joyce managed to cut off his female counterparts 12 times in two minutes on the show.

“You can’t make this up,” the viewer exclaimed of Monday’s episode featuring a panel described as “lively” by host Hamish Macdonald.

It was so lively – if not downright fiery – that some viewers said they wanted to punch Mr Joyce, a Nationals MP who had a relationship with his former press secretary Vikki Campion.

One person concluded the show on the back of last week’s Four Corners national furore over sexual relationships in Canberra “would have been much better without Barnaby”.

At one point in the program when writer Jane Caro was speaking, former Labor MP Emma Husar interjected with, “Barnaby, be quiet!” to which Caro added, “It is my turn to talk” and the pair were met with resounding applause.

RELATED: ‘There are others’: Joyce’s shock sex claim

It was one of several times Ms Husar shot down Mr Joyce on the show, taking a no holds barred approach.

Ms Husar, who was forced to resign from her federal western Sydney after sexual assault allegations and bullying and harassment claims from staff, started by saying what we’d seen play out over the last week showed women were held to a completely different set of standards to men.

She immediately highlighted Mr Joyce’s case and he wasn’t happy about it.

“Obviously Barnaby’s case as well, is that women will be judged by a different set of standards. They will be told to abide by a different set of rules than the men,” she said.

She said if the Liberal Party were saying that politicians such as Mr Joyce, Alan Tudge and Christian Porter were “meritorious selection, we’ve got a problem”.

Immigration Minister Alan Tudge was forced to apologise after confessing to an extramarital affair with former senior press secretary Rachelle Miller, while Attorney-General Christian Porter has denied claims he had done anything untoward with a staffer following last week’s Four Corners episode.

“It is galling to watch these mean continue in their jobs,” she said.

“Continue to go forward and to lead our country, when – you know, in Tudge’s case – he got caught with his pant’s down, Barnaby is the same. The jury is still out on Porter. Mine was all over innuendo. There was a man that was wielding that agenda because I’d fired him.

“A man who felt privileged, who felt like he was entitled to his job, even though he was underperforming, didn’t get his way in fair work, didn’t get his way when he tried to extort me, so went down the path of – you know, getting the media to be complicit in his actions, which – you know, has had lasting ramifications on my life. And I’ve not worked since. “

She said while she wasn’t wishing anything bad for those men, she was asking “what the hell is this?”

“We can’t put a woman out there and hang her out to dry on rumour and innuendo when we have got behaviour that is clearly outside at least some standard of basic integrity going on while we allow this to happen to a woman,” she said.

Mr Joyce went on to say he was “disappointed” in Ms Husar for what she said and he was not apologetic for what happened to her because it was what the Labor Party did that was appalling.

“I think she was treated incredibly poorly,” he said.

But Ms Husar shot back, “You didn‘t call that out at the time, Barnaby. I remember your party and the government of the day weaponising what I was going through. And making it worse.”

He said he was different to Ms Husar in that he accepted he did something that was wrong.

“I would say morally wrong, in that my marriage [was] breaking down, but that is not a judgment for another politician,” he said.

“If it’s illegal, it is a judgment for police. If it is something else, it is a judgment for priest or pastor … it’s not the job of another politician or a person who’s not the police or some sort of moral guidance counsellor to be in judgment of you.

“I’m not in judgment of you, Emma. I do find it a little bit galling that you open your sort of narration with one of the meritorious selection of myself because I most certainly never, ever did that to you.”

Mr Joyce said he didn’t want anybody flushed down the toilet like he or Ms Campion were and told Ms Husar to wait for him to finish his sentence, which soon prompted a tense back and forth.

“I don’t want Christian to be treated like that. I don’t want Alan to be treated like that, or any other human being to be treated like that, because it’s outrageous,” he said.

That led to a fiery exchange that played out like this:

Ms Husar: “You didn’t deserve to be treated in any other way. This comes down to o a question of integrity. That is a value judgment.

Mr Joyce: “Why do you say that I deserved to be treated like that? I don’t want to know why you or should or shouldn’t be treated like that. I think you shouldn’t.

Ms Husar: “We’re talking about something entirely different, Barnaby. In your case, it goes to the question of integrity. You went to your electorate with Natalie (his wife) and the girls on your corflutes,” she said in reference to his campaign signs.

Mr Joyce: “It didn’t.”

Ms Husar: “You campaigned on family values.”

Mr Joyce: “You’re wrong there. In the last election – Natalie and the girls who I love dearly, were not with me. You’re wrong. I’m quite disappointed, Emma. That you would say that I deserved to be. I’m out here …”

Ms Husar: “OK. You’re allowed to be disappointed. I’m disappointed in your behaviour. And it goes to a point of integrity, Barnaby. It is different. So, you and Alan and Christian Porter – there are people, witnesses, who have come forward. And they are investigated. There is absolutely no question of doubt that you have acted with – you know, maybe a lack of integrity or a lack of judgment. You were married at the time, you’re fine.”

Mr Joyce: “It is important that you use – point out exactly what you mean by that. Because, yes, I —

Ms Husar: “I will if you let me finish!”

Mr Joyce: “My marriage broke down. I want to know where your issue is with that?”

Macdonald then moved on to another panellist.

Caro went on to say there was a “boys’ club” in Canberra and men got away with their behaviour.

“This is the boys circling the wagon, this is how it works,” she said.

“This is how women who speak up are silenced. Woman watch it. And they shut up. That is why it goes on and goes on. The problem is with agency, is if you’re a young woman in any corporate or political situation and a man with power puts the hard word on you, I can tell you exactly what goes through your head. You don’t want to do it. But if you say, ‘I don’t want to do it’, he’s going to stop your pitch for the rest of your working life.

“You have to find a way to … Do that dance where you don’t do what he wants you to do but you help him to save face because otherwise you know he will punish you for what you do. And with this will not change. Until we have as many women in positions of power as we have men. As many mediocre women in positions of power as we have mediocre men. They don’t need to be exceptional. The men aren’t.”

Mr Joyce agreed women should call in the cavalry and take them to task but that men and women should not be told how to live and be free to choose who they liked.

“This is where I am way out of line with corporate Australia,” he said.

“If we do that – where do we stop?”

Caro said it was always the woman who ended up trashed, because most of the relationships didn’t work out, noting that Mr Joyce’s was an exception.

“Most don’t. Particularly in that situation. Then, unfortunately, it seems to be always the woman that pays the price.

“I’ve heard so often people say, ‘She’s going to ruin his career’. I’m yet to see many men whose careers have actually been ruined. I have sent a hell of a lot of women who have had to leave the country, get another job, whose whole working life and ambition has been ruined.”

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Joyce looks to pit state against state for juicy prize of Qantas HQ

This strategy is more about making money than it is about saving money.

Joyce is looking to hollow every log as Qantas moves into the eighth-month of COVID-19. He has already stood down the majority of his staff and is looking to renegotiate lots of supply deals and more importantly enterprise bargaining agreements.

Once Qantas is eventually up and running again Joyce won’t have missed any opportunities to overhaul the airline’s cost base.

Joyce watched Virgin before and during its recent administration get a financial assistance auction going between the state governments. Queensland ultimately won this battle but it came with a $200 million price tag.

Emboldened by Virgin’s success at pitting state governments against each other, Qantas dipped its toe in the pond a few months ago and approached the NSW government for some assistance/incentive to help pay for a new flight training simulator in Mascot – the plans for which had already been drawn up and approved (the hole had been dug and the concrete slab had been poured).

NSW declined the offer and Qantas stopped the project immediately.

This time around Joyce brought a much bigger weapon – its head office.

Already the Premiers of Victoria and Queensland, who were quizzed about the possibility during Tuesday’s COVID-19 press briefings, appear keen to have a horse in the race. Joyce is understood to have already spoken to the eastern state Premiers in recent weeks about its real estate plans.

Given Qantas is about three times the size of Virgin, having the flying kangaroo’s head office is a juicy prize and one that is arguably worth much more than the $200 million Virgin is scheduled to pocket.

Around 5000 people are employed at Qantas’ head office in Mascot and another 1000 at Jetstar’s base in Melbourne’s Collingwood.


Qantas will also consider consolidating some facilities and “right-sizing” (shrinking) others.

But even with the government incentives, Joyce needs to find other creative ways to lower Qantas’ cost base. Virgin did this while under administration. It negotiated aircraft leases, property rental, shed staff permanently and of much more significance, it recast its enterprise bargaining agreements.

Virgin now boasts a cost base more aligned with that of Jetstar.

Joyce will undoubtedly consider that now is the perfect time to deal with international pilots. In the first instance he would understand that while the international division is in hibernation, the pilots are in a weakened negotiating position. And when international flying resumes around the world there will be plenty of spare pilots looking for work.

There is also a good chance that several of the aircraft type, such as the A380s won’t have much (if any) place in the post-COVID Qantas line up. It would be unsurprising to see a larger number of international pilots made redundant before the airline resumes normal services.

And Joyce is no stranger to playing industrial relations hardball. He did so in order to get a 30 per cent productivity lift when introducing direct flights from Perth to London and again on the Sunrise project to fly direct from Sydney and Melbourne to London, Paris and New York.

“There will be some reinvention required to succeed in a different (post pandemic) world,” Joyce said in August while reporting a pre-tax loss of $2.7 billion for the full year to June 30, 2020.

He noted that achieving a $15 billion cost slashing target over three years would involve “hard decisions”.

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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce slams state premiers over borders

State premiers have been accused of keeping borders shut to win elections rather than save lives.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and tourism industry groups have warned today that politics was driving the decisions rather than medical advice and hundreds of jobs would be lost as a result.

The blow up over border closures follows claims in a parliamentary inquiry today that Queensland and the Northern Territory are keeping borders closed to win elections in defiance of medical advice.

“When you have states with zero cases closing their borders to states with zero cases, there doesn’t seem to be any medical reason or health reason or any logical reason for those to remain closed,” Mr Joyce told Sky News.

“When do borders close? Because they may have to close again in the future. When do they open? And at the moment it doesn’t seem to be medically or scientifically based.

“It seems to be more politically driven.”

The blow up over border closures follows claims in a parliamentary inquiry today that Queensland and the Northern Territory are keeping borders closed to win elections rather than for medical reasons.

But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk slammed Health Minister Greg Hunt’s call for her to act with “common decency” on border closures and urged him to start acting on aged care deaths.

Ms Palaszczuk, who faces the polls on October 31, was responding to Mr Hunt’s calls for Queensland to allow regional NSW residents to access medical treatment where it was closer.

“I’m showing a lot of decency,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It’s about time Greg Hunt focuses on aged care and issues in Victoria and stops trying to raise every other issue about Queensland.”

Australians have also been urged to quit sitting and around spending their money on online shopping in lockdown and book a holiday at home if they want to save tourism jobs.

Tourism Accommodation Australia chair Martin Ferguson said the key to recovery was reopening the borders safely.

“From the hotel, to the pubs, to the clubs. We saw some pick up through May and June,’’ he said. “But the closure of Victoria has really put us back on our backsides

“No government handouts are going to solve our problems. We are in survival mode.”

Australian Tourism Industry Council spokesman Simon Westaway said the “double down” by the states on borders despite improving numbers was galling.

“It’s an $84 million impact a day. The biggest net loser out of this is Queensland,’’ he said.

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Qantas’ plight is ugly, but Joyce is optimistic

Qantas has previously announced it would shed 6000 jobs, with about 4000 of those gone by the end of next month. It’s also stood down about 20,000 employees. Redundancy costs total about $600 million.

It’s mothballed its fleet of A380s in the Mojave desert in California, retired its 747 fleet early and now has about 100 aircraft in storage. It has written down the value of its fleet by $1.4 billion, a non-cash charge that helps explains the scale of the statutory loss. The parked planes won’t be back in service for years, if ever.

The pandemic-induced battle for survival has forced Qantas – which had been on track for another $1 billion-plus pre-tax result – to embark on a restructuring push aimed at pulling $15 billion out of its cost base over the next three years to produce a $1 billion-a-year in ongoing savings.

Burning $40 million a week

The group has been helped in the near term by government subsidies and fee waivers of nearly $250 million and $267 million of JobKeeper payments, which have helped it to minimise the still-gut-wrenching job losses.

But it’s still burning cash at a rate around the target it set for itself – an almost inconceivable and jaw-dropping $40 million a week.

Despite the scale of the haemorrhaging, Qantas is still better-placed than almost any other major airline in the world.

That’s because it went into the pandemic as one of the most profitable airlines in the world, with a conservative balance sheet and cash position, which has been enhanced by its $1.4 billion equity raising and strong non-flying operations.

Qantas Loyalty, remarkably, only experienced a 9 per cent decline in profitability, generating earnings before interest and tax of $341 million. Its membership and member satisfaction figures have actually improved, despite the absence of flights.

The Qantas International and freight business, where the impact of the pandemic on travel demand has been most profound, produced underlying EBIT of $56 million after the explosion in e-commerce activity boosted the Qantas Freight business.

Winding back expectations

Alan Joyce will need those businesses to continue to produce profits, and rely on the government to maintain JobKeeper payments and perhaps other financial assistance, because the closures of state borders and the continuing outbreaks of the virus even in regions that appeared to have suppressed it – onshore and offshore – have pushed back expectations on the timing of a return towards normality.

Qantas has wound back its expectations for returned capacity this month from 32 per cent to 20 per cent, expects there to be no resumption of international travel until at least the middle of next year and is resigned to the inevitability that 2020-21 is going to be another bad year.

How bad it is will depend on how quickly domestic borders re-open. Alan Joyce is pushing for a national cabinet-driven and science-based framework for their opening and closing; bemused that states with zero or minimal cases are still shut to domestic travel.


Given that the suppression strategy the national cabinet has adopted accepts that there will infections and outbreaks as the price paid for some limitation of the economic damage, the ad hoc policies of the individual states and the absence of a national framework is exacerbating the economic cost.

Qantas, and Virgin, are particularly impacted but the issue, but the damage goes well beyond the airlines.

Joyce is surprisingly optimistic about Qantas’ post-pandemic future despite accepting that his international business might remain grounded indefinitely and, even if it were to resume flights, would face reduced demand and incur higher costs as a result of the changes to business and consumer sentiment and practices and the likely regulatory requirements.

That’s because of Qantas’ dominance of one of the most profitable domestic markets in the world, an expectation that the restrictions on international travel will boost the volume of domestic travel and the changing shape of its only meaningful competitor.

Virgin Australia will emerge from administration under a private equity ownership motivated to maximise profit as a single-brand group targeting the market sector between Qantas and Jetstar.

Betting on domestic demand

The disappearance of the Tiger brand and Virgin’s narrower focus on targeting value-conscious (rather than price-conscious) travellers and small and medium-sized businesses rather than continuing to try to challenge Qantas’ stranglehold on corporate travel ought to strengthen Qantas’ position at both extremes of the market.

It expects that, as demand gradually returns and the demand for international travel is redirected into the domestic market, its domestic market share could grow from 60 per cent to 70 per cent.

Qantas could achieve that without sacrificing margin or engaging in a price war with the new Virgin because its rival’s new owners will be very aware that they could make a lot more money from a 30 per cent market share if Virgin is managed effectively than the carrier has achieved over the past decade, when its losses overwhelmed its rare and modest profits.

Both carriers need domestic markets to re-open and the latent and pent-up demand for domestic travel – which Joyce says is substantial – to return their planes to the skies and generate some cashflows so they can start to reduce the heavy cash burns they know they’ll have to cope with for at least this financial year and potentially beyond.

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Barnaby Joyce fires up over privacy in the media question

Barnaby Joyce has fired up while speaking about the conflict between media and a right to privacy on Q&A Monday night

The former deputy prime minister reflected on the experience he and his partner, Vikki Campion, have had with the media in recent years after their relationship was exposed in the press.

One of the questions put to the panel asked how the line is drawn in the media between the public’s right to know and a person’s right to privacy.

Mr Joyce claimed it is an “easy” line to draw, saying it all depends if someone works in a job where they are in the public eye or not.

“I’m in the public, I’m paid for a job – but if a person is an individual that is not paid, then it is not in the public interest,” he said.

“It’s all very well to say it’s a fine line. It’s not.”

Fellow panellist Niki Savva, who is an Australian political journalist, said there were regular disagreements between the media and politicians about what should and shouldn’t be published.

She suggested Mr Joyce was taking the question “a little bit personally”, sparking a heated response from the former deputy PM.

“I’m not, Niki, I’m just saying the bleeding obvious. I’m a public figure. Go after me. You’re allowed to do that,” Mr Joyce said.

“But if you are just a private individual who is not actually paid for a public job and you think you can flog a newspaper by sticking them on the front page, you’re having yourself on if you think I’m more righteous than others.

“I’m going to call it out because I don’t care, that’s all in the past what happened to me. I don’t want that to happen to somebody in the future.”

Mr Joyce was speaking in reference to a picture published on the front page of The Daily Telegraph in 2018 of his former media adviser – now partner – Ms Campion, who was heavily pregnant with their first child at the time.

“It’s not about me, it’s about a private individual walking across the road. You take a photo of a pregnant woman walking across a road, put it on the front page and give yourself a Walkley. Come on,” he said.

The picture and accompanying story revealed the pair were having a child together, with the news coming out just months after Mr Joyce confirmed the breakdown of his 24-year marriage to his now ex-wife.

The publication went on to win a Walkley Award for the ‘Bundle of Joyce’ article for the Scoop of the Year category.

Mr Joyce faced intense scrutiny after the picture was published, particularly over the fact he used “family values” as one of his reasons for being a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.

He stepped down as deputy prime minister shortly after revelations of his affair came to light.

When asked on Q&A if the fact that he had campaigned on family values meant it was acceptable for this part of his private life to be in the media, he reiterated that he should be the one targeted, not his partner.

“It’s not about me, I’m a public figure. You put yourself out as a public figure,” Mr Joyce said.

“But if I went after your partner or you had a partner and I decided that was a good yarn, I think that person has a right to privacy.”

Journalist Sharri Markson, who broke the story, later defended publishing it as in the public interest despite it making her feel “uncomfortable.”

“Look there’s no question when I first saw the photograph and my editor as well — you feel a bit uncomfortable. It is an uncomfortable thing to take a photograph of a seven-month pregnant lady,” Markson told The Australian’s Behind The Media podcast.

“But the news isn’t always comfortable. That was a news photograph, it told the story and the story was in the public interest.”

Both and The Daily Telegraph are owned by News Corp Australia.

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