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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has indicated it will withdraw permission for Virgin Australia (VA, Brisbane Int’l) and Alliance Airlines (QQ, Brisbane Int’l) to continue operating a charter alliance agreement that facilitated cooperating, coordinating, and jointly bidding for fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) work.

In 2017, the competition regulator okayed the agreement but following a May 2022 application by the airlines to extend it, the ACCC has now issued a draft determination and opposes the agreement continuing.

“The ACCC is not satisfied that the public benefits likely to result from the charter alliance agreement in the next five years will outweigh the public detriment that is likely to result from Virgin Australia Regional (VARA) and Alliance Airlines coordinating their FIFO services,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said. “The ACCC is not satisfied that the public benefits claimed to arise from combining Virgin Australia’s charter fleet and national regular passenger network with Alliance Airlines’ national charter network are likely to result from the extension of the agreement to the extent claimed by the applicants.”

Qantas trims share buyback program

Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) has cancelled the planned on-market buyback of 18,294,003 ordinary shares valued at AUD95.6 million Australian dollars (USD60 million). The airline announced an AUD400 million (USD251 million) share buyback program in August after a strong rebound in travel demand in the first half of calendar 2022.

However, in an October 7 update to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), company secretary Benjamin Elliott confirmed the partial cancellation. The cancellation is occurring under the provisions of ss.257H(3) of Australia’s Corporations Act (2001). Since the first share buyback announcement on August 22, the Qantas share price has risen over 15% on the ASX. Qantas said the buyback offered the first return to shareholders since 2019 and followed AUD1.4 billion (USD880 million) of equity raised at the start of the pandemic.

The share buyback program is running through to June 30, 2023. As of October 10, the airline had acquired 20, 035,917 shares under the buyback program. In an ASX filing, the company notes that “Qantas is targeting a buy-back of up to AUD400…

Qantas, Virgin Australia in truce on defecting loyalty boss

Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) and local rival Virgin Australia (VA, Brisbane Int’l) have ended a long-running legal dispute over a defecting employee which at its nadir, involved calls for jail time. On Friday, October 7, both airlines agreed to end the matter with both parties paying their own costs.

The dispute concerned former Jetstar Japan (GK, Tokyo Narita) CEO and longtime Qantas employee Nick Rohrlach who jumped ship to Virgin Australia in late 2020 to become head of Velocity, that airline’s loyalty program. Just before leaving the Qantas Group, Rohrlach had accepted a senior position in their loyalty division, leading to claims he was going to Virgin Australia with sensitive commercial information.

A spate of employee poaching by Virgin Australia at the time under new CEO Jayne Hrdlicka lead to a deterioration in the relationship between herself and Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. Previously, they had been on friendly terms and Hrdlicka, a longtime Qantas Group employee, had acted in various roles at the airline, including as Jetstar Airways

Australia’s Chartair talks Northern Territory growth

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