Editorial - Friday, February 28: Ready for turbulence?

QANTAS boss Alan Joyce must be experiencing plenty of turbulence after yesterday's announcement of a $252 million half-year loss and the axing of 5000 jobs, but it can't be too long before he is grounded permanently.

The board of the Flying Kangaroo would be the most sympathetic in history if it doesn't decide to make its chief executive the first of those job losses.

It is a terrible result in any- body's language and must trigger an overhaul at the airline, and at government level where the rules under which Qantas operates need examination, at the very least.

Qantas strongly holds a place in the hearts of Australians - and markets itself to take advantage of that - but how much longer can it afford to be our "national carrier".

To some extent that status ended in the 1990s when the airline was privatised but restrictions in the Qantas sales act keep its future tied to how it performs in the Australian market.

The government must decide if it is time Qantas learned to fly on its own and remove for-eign ownership restrictions.

But those impediments are not the sole reason it is performing so badly.

Mr Joyce and the board must take much of the blame.

Cutting jobs and costs is one thing, but where is the flight plan for the airline's future?

Where is the certainty for regional customers who would see terms such as "significant changes" and worry whether services will continue?

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has had a 29% rise in interim profit. If Qantas can't find a lesson there, they aren't trying.

David Moase,
Editor



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