Qantas shines as host airline of IATA AGM

As Australia’s national carrier and host, Qantas played a major role in this week’s IATA Annual General Meeting. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce even acted as the IATA AGM president, commenting on numerous topics throughout the event.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key topics and thoughts from the Qantas executive board and those related to the airline:

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on the launch of oneworld’s new ‘connect’ partner model and inaugural member, Fiji Airways:

  • The oneworld connect platform will make it “easier” and provide “better connectivity” to “multiple destinations and opportunities”.
  • Qantas has a codeshare partnership with Fiji Airways and is “really excited” about the new oneworld partnership, which sees Fiji Airways become the first oneworld connect member. Mr Joyce said Qantas is “very very happy to be a sponsor” of Fiji Airways’ addition as a oneworld connect member, commenting: “We’ve worked closely with Fiji Airways for many years and are pleased to serve as its mentor as it comes on board as the first oneworld connect partner”.
  • Qantas is “keen to help Fiji Airways” in a number of areas, such as with fleet evaluation and pilot training. He noted the addition of Fiji Airways as a oneworld connect member will “open up the door for other dialogue, for further dialogue”, with the model enabling airlines’ to “discover further opportunities once part of oneworld connect”.
  • Fiji is experiencing “amazing demand” from Australia, adding over 20,000 passengers (+20% year-on-year) on Fiji Airways over the past 12 months, adding that there is “huge demand” in this market. Mr Joyce stated Australians have a “love affair” with Fiji and the addition of Fiji Airways as the first oneworld connect member will “create love affairs for airlines all over the globe”. Mr Joyce also noted the significant investment in tourism infrastructure in Fiji, adding that Fiji has become an “amazing destinations for premium traveller”.

Qantas’ plans for ultra long range aircraft orders:

  • Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said, the aircraft would be required to operate from Sydney to London or New York nonstop with a full payload, and be delivered in 2022. The so called Project Sunrise would put Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, New York or Paris within direct reach of Australia’s eastern seaboard.
  • Qantas International Airways CEO Alison Webster added: “All things are on the table as we work through the development phase”.
  • Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz confirmed the aircraft manufacturer is considering an ultra long range version of the A350-1000 to meet Qantas requirements for ‘Project Sunrise’, alongside a version of the A350-900. Mr Schulz said Airbus already knows what it can do with the A350-900, as it has developed an ultra long range variant for Singapore Airlines.

On airport privatisation in Australia and New Zealand

  • Qantas CEO Alan Joyce stated that some people highlight Australia and New Zealand’s airport privatisation models as successes, however he believes the model “should be an example to the rest of the world” to be avoided. He added “there have been a few examples of airport privatisations that have delivered benefits to airlines… we need gov to stop selling airport assets to maximise revenues without thinking on how airlines and customers will be affected”. He called for stronger regulatory controls from governments.
  • Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon, stated airports “in this part of the world are making off like bandits” and are able to “charge first world prices for a third world product”. Air New Zealand has joined Qantas Group and Virgin Australia, along with the Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) airline industry lobby group, in criticising the monopoly positions and profit levels of some Australasian airports, as well as calling for a new regulatory framework to be applied to them.
  • A4ANZ CEO Alison Roberts believes there is “nothing legally wrong” with monopoly operators. Ms Roberts stated in the case of airports in Australia and New Zealand, the associated regulatory model for privatised airports was considered too “heavy handed”, and was removed after a short period. She said regulations should be revisited, as airports in Australia specifically are a “global case study of what not to do”.

Qantas Group on encourage female participation in aviation, particularly pilots

  • Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce stated the airline wants to have more females engaged in all aspects of aviation, and a lot of airlines have instituted programmes covering diversity. Mr Joyce noted that increased female participation in aviation is an avenue Qantas pursuing to help address the pilot shortage and the carrier is active in schools in promoting STEM subjects. It is “only a matter of time until the profile of women in aviation changes” according to Mr Joyce.