In an op-ed piece published in Fairfax newspapers and the Qantas media page on January 24 entitled ‘Armchair Experts in the Cockpit’, Qantas CFO Gareth Evans has taken aim at some of the airline’s detractors, and has restated the Group will not relinquish its 65 percent domestic market share ‘line in the sand’.
In particular, Evans singled out former airline finance employee, Tony Webber, saying Mr Webber was “retrenched several years ago”, had recommended that Qantas “significantly shrink” its regional services which would have ignored the airline’s “role in the community” and “left the door open” to more competitors, and had a “one dimensional view of supply and demand that ignore how a multifaceted market actually works.”
Evans attributed most of Qantas’s recent woes to “record” oil prices, a “subdued” world economy”, and interestingly considering the airline’s 2013 tie up with Emirates, “Asian and Middle Eastern carriers, who can do things a lot cheaper, expand aggressively into our markets.” He stressed that while the airline is “not asking for a government subsidy”, it is arguing for “action to level what all sides of politics is a distorted playing field.”
Regarding the 65 per cent market share claim, Evans said that strategy was about “…giving our customers a market-leading choice of destinations, frequencies and seats at the times they want to travel, adding that it “…reflects the investment we have made over many years in our regional operations and in building a national low-fares network with Jetstar.”
Evans also addressed claims that Jetstar had adversely affected the Qantas Group’s profitability, saying “Jetstar Australia is a business that has been profitable in every year of its existence, opening up low cost air travel for Australians and creating a new market alongside Qantas as part of a uniquely successful two-brand strategy. We coordinate which brand flies which route to best serve our customers and to maximise the return for the Qantas Group. If Qantas hadn’t created Jetstar, someone else would have – and Qantas would have been the loser.”