Qantas has asked the Australian Stock Exchange for a 48 hour trading halt after being informed by British Airways of its intention to sell its 18.25 per cent shareholding in Qantas. The Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Geoff Dixon, said Qantas fully understood British Airways’ decision to sell its stake in the airline. Mr Dixon said the sale would have no effect on the Qantas’ commercial operations.
“British Airways has been a supportive shareholder over a period of some ten years and both airlines have formed a strong and constructive commercial relationship,” Mr Dixon said.
“Neither airline now believes the shareholding is necessary for the ongoing conduct of that relationship.
“To this extent the Joint Services Agreement that provides for joint schedules, sales and operations between Australia, South East Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe will continue, as will other forms of cooperation.”
Mr Dixon said British Airways had stated the sale would strengthen its balance sheet and place British Airways in a robust position for any future European consolidation.
He said Qantas had also stated publicly for some time that the airline industry was headed towards consolidation.
“The ‘tyranny of distance’ between Australia and the United Kingdom rules out such consolidation, but not cooperation, between Qantas and British Airways.
“We will, however, seek to further strengthen our commercial position to enable us to take a leading role in any suitable consolidation opportunities that may arise in the Asia Pacific region.”