Air Transport World

Approaching privatization. (Qantas Airways)(Company Profile)

SYDNEY--This Australian airline story has more plot twists than a Dickens novel.

Sticking to the most recent happenings, British Airways' and Qantas's joint service agreement finally received Australian government approval--including the right to set fares jointly and combine some operations--while an additional 24% of the Australian airline is being offered for sale outside the country, but not to BA, which already has its 25% maximum of Qantas.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand, which was prevented from entering the Australian domestic market by a sudden Australian government decision to suspend the "transtasman single aviation market" agreement, is in advanced negotiations to purchase the 50% share of Ansett Australia owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., while also pursuing an agreement with the holder of the other 50%, TNT Ltd., concerning the future ownership of that share.

Ansett, you will recall, is the airline that launched domestic New Zealand service against Air New Zealand and late last year started the first home-grown international competition against Qantas, which also is facing Air New Zealand's Australia-originating international service. Of course you'll remember that Qantas has a 20% share in Air New Zealand. If the Ansett purchase is completed, Qantas, conventional wisdom says, will sell its ANZ holdings and launch its own domestic New Zealand operation, possibly by buying Ansett New Zealand--which otherwise will not pressure ANZ on its home turf--while ANZ, though Ansett, will hound QF across the Outback and combining its international operations with Ansett, present QF a substantial home challenge on overseas routes. …

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