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|Qantas delays freight review|
|Author:admin , Hits:1996|
November 29, 2010
QANTAS is likely to delay the outcome of a review of two freight ventures with Australia Post until early next year, as corporate filings show earnings at one to be weaker than expected.
The joint venture partners were due to unveil a new structure for Star Track Express and Australian Air Express, which employ almost 5000 people between them, in early October.
But the owners remain stuck in discussions about the best structure for the poorly performing freight businesses, and are not expected to reach an outcome until February.
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It is likely the companies will be merged in order to slash back-office costs, according to Macquarie Equities and Citi analysts. But it is believed Qantas and Australia Post favour operating the 50:50 joint ventures separately under a holding company arrangement.
Qantas would not divulge the joint venture bottom-line results for the year when it released its own earnings in August, other than to say they ''have not moved substantially''.
But corporate filings now show that Star Track Express profit fell by 33 per cent to $12.5 million for the year to June 30 - considerably less than its $26 million profit in 2007-08.
Star Track Express paid a total dividend of $20 million, split between Qantas and Australia Post.
Other filings to the corporate regulator show that Australian Air Express made a profit of $13.3 million for the year to June - a big improvement on a $119,000 profit in 2009-08.
However, it appears that the increase in earnings was achieved through cost reduction, given that total revenue fell by 5 per cent to $534 million. The latest result for AAE is also considerably less than the profit of $17.6 million in 2008-07, or the $30.2 million achieved in 2006-07.
Last week AAE's workforce secured wages rises of between 14 and 21 per cent over the next three years. Its fleet includes four 737-300s, three BAe-146 jets and a range of smaller turboprops. It uses the belly space in Qantas and Jetstar planes to offer a door-to-door package delivery service.
Qantas is also still to conclude the planned sale of its 46 per cent stake in Fiji's national flag carrier, Air Pacific.
It has been in talks with Air Pacific about selling its holding since at least September last year, but the Fijian airline's growing losses have made it difficult to find a buyer.
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