Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:09 pm

Monday, 12 November 2001
(C) The Australian Financial Review

Qantas Airways and Virgin Blue could feel the wrath of a "wronged" Singapore
Airlines as it looks for its chance to hold the management leash of what Mr
Lindsay Fox referred to last week as an "underdog Ansett".

The fact that Mr Fox and his would-be partner in a revived Ansett, fellow
Melbourne businessman Mr Solomon Lew, bet their political connections on a
Labor win is beside the point.

Singapore Airlines has a consulting role with the administrators and hasn't
tried to pick a winner between the Lew/Fox or ANstaff groups.

It is just aching for a chance, any chance, to savage Qantas.

On Wednesday, in a move termed "entirely coincidental" by Singapore
Airlines, it raised a $S800million ($855 million) bond issue in Hong Kong
for the purpose of working capital.

After replacing the cash spent on a $S600 million share buyback, there is
more than enough money left over to inject some serious bite into a new

Singapore Airlines has been aggressively planning for a management or future
equity role with whoever gets to buy the core assets of the carrier.

It is seething over the role of the Australian Government in the Ansett
collapse, privately arguing that it destroyed a $400-million plus investment
in parent company Air New Zealand by accepting the Qantas view that
unrestricted competition in aviation was not in the national interest.

The Government stymied moves that would have increased the Singapore equity
in the Air NZ/Ansett group and lead to a progressive recapitalisation and
expansion of their operations.

Singapore is also furious with the role Sir Richard Branson played through
his refusal to sell budget carrier Virgin Blue to Ansett, which would have
averted the situation in which Ansett was written off the books at Air NZ to
the tune of more than $1 billion.

But Singapore Airlines has far more at stake in its partnership with Sir
Richard in Virgin Atlantic than it has so far lost in Australia.

Some form of reconciliation with Virgin Blue to goad a blue heeler of an
airline into ripping the Qantas share price to shreds is verging on being a

Only in Australia have the ambitions of both players clashed, and where Sir
Richard, at least initially, has succeeded with his classless brand of cheap
jet flights.

The Singapore Airlines team that has been shuttling between the
administrators and their home base has a double brief. It has to "protect"
Singapore Airlines' interests from the consequences of Australia becoming a
one-airline State, and also create product differentiation.

The strategic brilliance of Qantas chief Mr Geoff Dixon is making that very
hard. Mr Dixon is occupying Virgin territory with up to 40 tight-fit
all-economy 737s in budget service by the end of next year, as well as
offering full-service flights in more than 20 wide-bodied 767s on interstate

But the Fox-Lew and ANStaff plans have a common redeeming feature.

They use brand new Airbuses, and the single-aisled A320 family is inherently
more comfortable than any 737 because the seats can be 2.5cms wider per
economy-class bottom, and over 5cms wider in first class, where the big ends
of town like to sit.

They also come with seat-back video screens, individual telephones and docks
for computer power and internet connections.

Qantas has resisted the cost of connecting its customers to e-mail access in

But in the Airbuses, originally for delivery to United Airlines,
connectivity will be universally available, without the hundreds of millions
of dollars that retrofitting would cost Qantas to bring its entire fleet
into the information age.

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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:20 pm


Thanks for this - have not had a chance to read the Fin Review today...

Looks like the FinReview wants to see AN back in the skies again - big time.

I am all for competition in the air - your comments yesterday in relation to the Air NZ thread which caused some heated debate was very enjoyable and interesting to read. You certainly got yourself right into that one. Are you a lawyer per chance?

BTW - do you also work in the aviation industry?

RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:21 pm


I have to agree the article seems to end a bit 'funny' with the comments about the A320's.



RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:26 pm


I didn't get to read all of the posts on that Air NZ topic. I'm an Equities Trader and I do know my law, but I also have an interest in economics and of course my passion is aviation.

What were the heated debates about, before it was deleted (was it?) I can't find it.

BTW - The Fin Reveiw are all for the ressurection of AN as they (and readers) all know that QF needs competition to keep the business services up to scratch instead of letting service level drop to US standards. Which will happen if they dominate.


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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:29 pm

Great article. It was a mistake for the Aussie government to sell AN to ANZ in the first place anyway. But that, of course, is another story.
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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:31 pm

I agree - QF needs competition to keep standards high.

As for the Air NZ topic - I think it was deleted, but there were comments made by a Canadian about so called "low living standards" in Australia - then it got onto standards of living in NZ and comments about all sorts of things after that. Alas, I joined in too late to contribute much.

Equities Trading sounds full on - I guess you must work some pretty crazy hours? I am a lawyer for AWAS and like you, love aviation!

The more aviation activity in Australia, the better!


RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:36 pm


Interesting stuff mate. Do you facilitate a/c leases? If so you must some pretty good inside info on what is happening to the 733's.

Is AWAS in SYD or MEL?

Cheers, (yeah the hours can be odd sometimes but usually 9-5)

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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:43 pm


AWAS head office is in Sydney, where I am. Our MEL office is mainly engineering services. Other than that, we have offices in Seattle, Miami and New York.

The legal department basically has its hand in all aspects of the business, so to answer your question, yes, I am involved in leasing transactions. They are basically the bread and butter of our work.

Yes - there is lots happening here - and for once, I am not hearing about it in the press - it is good being on the 'inside' for once. Unfortunately I cannot reveal anything about what I am doing - sorry - I would dearly love to  Smile

How often do you go out to SYD? I am new to Sydney and am not so sure of all the decent places for watching/taking photos now that the AN terminal is 3/4 closed and I don't have a car....hmmm

Does your work involve aviation or is it just a love of the industry that keeps you interested?
Air Taiwan
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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 4:21 pm

Hehe Mx5 I was going to post this article when I first saw it at 1450 Bne time but I thought you'd do that so... (and of course you did...)

good article... except that bit about internet and all... on A320s...

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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 4:41 pm

Seat back video and internet would be good to entice business class passengers back to ansett. I can't really see a need for them in economy class. Jsmith Must be interesting to have good inside knowledge about the industry. Also it is good to have industry professionals on this site so at least the discussions can keep on track with some reliable information.
Why fly non stop when you can connect
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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 4:58 pm

Nice article with interesting exaggerations.

If AN still can keep it's superior service than fellow AU counterparts, then it will succeed. If not, then...time to turn to IFE?
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.

RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 5:38 pm


Know what your saying mate. There is a tonne of stuff that I know about from my Singaporean brokers that would be very interesting to most people but like that unspoken language, you just don't kiss and tell. As much as I would love to!

As for the best spotting places, well my favourites are 'the beach' and the 'mound' both let you get very close to the action and enable you to get about as close as you could possibly can. You would be amazed I am sure. The beach is near taxiway alpha and your about 50 feet away. Incredible when a 744 taxi's past - the jet blast. Good for a/c pictures as well as for rotates on the main runway.

The mound is basically at the end of the 3rd runway and pretty good for 'the experience' of overhead take off's or landings. Again there is also the VOR field and others that are within walking distance from the Intl. terminal. But my favourites are only accessable by car (or a long walk). It's amazing that we still have such incredible access here. If you have the time the tarmac tours are pretty good as well. I'd be happy to show you these places if you like & can point you in the direction of the Sydney airport enthusiasts website that has all the info on the best spotting sites as well.

The best e-mail to get me on is '' .

Cheers mate!  Smile


You know mate I searched quite well this time before I posted as I KNOW you check out Ansett Stars. I had to post this as it sums up the way SQ are feeling at the moment. Did you get my e-mail? (From my office addy.)

BTW - My 2 Hasegawa A320 and 1 727-200 (the first VH-ANA) models arrived today! *yay* (from Japan)

BTW2 - I'm looking for what you are looking for in the same area.  Smile Smile

Cheers again!  Smile

Sing Air,

One of the interesting things is that to provide quality service is quite easy if you have a forgiving and professional staff. If you pay people peanuts then you will get monkeys usually working for you. However, it is not such a huge cost to provide decent in flight service and amenity. The handing out of candy/lollies on the old AN before landing was a nice touch that did wonders for AN. I think the catering costs per pax was around $1.00 pp AUD on a snack flight and around $2.00 AUD for a lunch / dinner or breakfast. Someone correct me if I am wrong but I am baseing this on what my sister says "an accor company" quoted AN some time ago.

It doesn't take much to offer incredible service at a small price. One of the problems with modern companies is that the bean counters will see the cost on paper in bulk and cut these as it saves a substantial amount of money without realising that the individual cost is irrelevant.

I know for me, an airline that provides a quality and pleasant environment wins hands down. Not everyone values that but I do and am sure most others do. That little snack or luch makes that claustrophic flight go a little quicker. The main thing for AN to prove now is to have a product that is both tangible (as in yes we will be flying) and a substantial "reward" for previous AN customers to come back into the fold. If the administrators check it right, some union unreast at QF could be very beneficial.

Cheers again!

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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 6:37 pm


thanks for all the info - I will send you an email!

Interesting times ahead for the aviation industry in Australia!
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RE: Seething SQ Waits For Vengeance!

Mon Nov 12, 2001 7:05 pm

CANBERRA (Dow Jones)--The Australian government will hold meetings Tuesday and Wednesday with the administrators of failed airline Ansett to discuss ongoing proposals to keep the airline flying, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson said Monday.
The spokesman said Anderson will meet Tuesday with the administrators in Sydney to "catch up" on their efforts to keep Ansett flying, particularly in regional areas.

The administrators said last week they hoped to sell Ansett's operations to businessmen Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox. Former owners Air New Zealand Ltd. placed Ansett into administration in September.

Anderson and the administrators will likely discuss, among other things, the Lew-Fox bid for Ansett, the spokesman said.

Government officials and advisers also will meet with the administrators and representatives of the Lew-Fox bid on Wednesday in Canberra, he added.

The businessmen are expected to ask the government, which was reelected Saturday, for assistance in their bid.

But Prime Minister John Howard played down Monday any help for the airline.

Asked about a claim the Lew-Fox consortium would ask for A$600 million in assistance, Howard said the government wouldn't agree to such a request.

"We don't have that sort of money," he said. "I mean this is ridiculous."

"But there may be ways in which we can, without committing the taxpayer to that extent, give some help," he added.

Howard reiterated the government's rejection of taking an equity stake in the airline.

-By Iain McDonald, Dow Jones Newswires; 61-2-6208-0901;

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