Qantas posts $244m loss and cancels aircraft order
Union's claim bad management to blame for airline's first loss since 1995
THE AUSTRALIAN airline Qantas has reported a net annual loss of $Aus 244m, amid claims of bad management and "poorly thought-out" ventures. As a result, it has been forced to cancel a $Aus 8.5bn order for 35 new Boeing Dreamliner aircrafts.
The loss is the first since the company was privatised in 1995 and marks a drastic turnaround from its $Aus 250m profit last year.
Alan Joyce, chief executive of the airline, blamed high fuel costs, industrial action and an "uncertain global context", the BBC reports.
The loss of passengers to rival carriers in key markets such as Britain, Europe and the United States has greatly reduced Qantas' sshare of the international market.
A company spokesman said industrial action last year, that resulted in Joyce grounding the entire Qantas fleet, had cost the airline $Aus 194 million.
However, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and Transport Workers Union (TWU) blamed "disastrous management" for the devastating loss.
AIPA president Captain Barry Jackson told The Australian that Qantas could be "doing much, much better if it had enjoyed good management" and said new initiatives such as Red Q - the new premium airline to be run in Asia - and a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign had "proven to be giant wastes".
Jackson said management had taken an "unnecessarily militant approach" to the industrial action, damaging the Qantas brand. TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon accused management of "playing with the figures" of the industrial action's cost to the airline.
A Qantas spokesman rejected the claims today, claiming the "initiatives have not been a waste" and accusing Sheldon of ignoring the facts.
Measures to rejuvenate the fortunes of the airline were underway, said the spokesman, including cancelling services on loss-making routes and streamlining some of its maintenance operations.
The plan is unlikely to help with the airline's popularity among staff: the restructure is expected to result in 2,800 job cuts.