Qantas Emergency Plan

Qantas Airways Limited today put forward a plan to provide emergency capacity to the Australian aviation market over the next few months.

The Qantas plan includes:

* the wet leasing of 10 Ansett and nine Hazelton aircraft with pilots, flight attendants and Ansett ground handling staff;

* the redirection of significant Qantas aircraft from overseas destinations affected by the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States of America to domestic flying; and

* a proposed agreement for our partner airline, British Airways, to fly some overseas services for Qantas on a short-term basis to enable Qantas aircraft with Australian pilots and cabin crew to be put on Australian domestic routes.

Qantas Chief Executive Officer Geoff Dixon said the Qantas plan would increase its domestic capacity by 50 per cent and allow Qantas to carry all its own passengers and uplift 80 per cent of passengers who previously travelled with Ansett.

The short term leasing of the Ansett and Hazelton aircraft and related activities, including the handling of them, would create temporary employment for about 1,500 Ansett staff.

The Qantas plan involves the lease of 10 A320 aircraft from Ansett for use on major trunk routes and nine SAAB aircraft from Hazelton for use on regional routes.

“We have had constructive talks overnight with the Ansett Administrator,” Mr Dixon said. “They have offered to provide five A320 aircraft to Qantas with crews for a period of seven days to fly Sydney-Melbourne only. This is not enough capacity, nor is it practical from a scheduling point of view. “Our alternate plan will provide more aircraft and more jobs for Ansett staff.

“We have agreed a price of A$6,250 per flight hour per aircraft, which is halfway between our offer and the Administrator's counter offer, and we are continuing to discuss with the Administrator and the Federal Government the required indemnities,” he said.

Qantas would release the Ansett and Hazelton aircraft on 24 hours' notice, Mr Dixon said, if Ansett, or parts of it, were sold as a going concern.

“Our plan is a practical short to medium term solution,” Mr Dixon said. “It will require co-operation, which we expect will be forthcoming, from all parties.”

Mr Dixon said Qantas was having discussions with Boeing, Airbus and other carriers to obtain aircraft on a long term basis.

Decisions will be made as soon as possible, taking into account global developments following the terrorist activities in the USA and the entry of any new airlines or the re-entry of Ansett into the Australian market.

“The new aircraft will be used on domestic routes, allowing Qantas to return its larger aircraft to international services and those flown in the short term by British Airways.

“Preference will be given to Ansett staff in crewing and handling these aircraft,” he said.

Mr Dixon said Qantas was briefing its pilot and cabin crew Unions on its plans.