Different Horses ...

Ground operations at the Qantas Group airlines are a complicated affair. But efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean simplicity.

Part of a $184 million (AUD200 million) investment by Qantas in its airport product, the new setup is set to be trialed at Perth in mid-2010, followed by Sydney and Melbourne in early 2011. “The aspiration is to at least halve check-in time, enabling existing ground employees to focus more on customer care,” says Joyce.

Qantas continues to push the boundaries and has implemented a program called Q Future, exploring new technologies and processes aimed at targeting $1.38 billion (AUD1.5 billion) in sustainable benefits over three years.

However, safety will always come top of the list according to Ayoubi. “Safety is paramount at Qantas,” he confirms. “That is the first priority. Striking the balance between growth and operational efficiency is the commercial challenge — the intention is certainly to grow. Growth requires continuing improvements in productivity and disciplined cost control, particularly in the face of increased competition.”

Consolidation too may be back on the cards. The Australian government’s late-2009 announcement that it plans to liberalize foreign ownership rules for Qantas would seem to fly in the face of the carrier’s current management strategy. Alternatively, it could prove a useful tool in Qantas’ armory, providing a much-needed catalyst for the airline to evolve strategic partnerships. Any negotiations would be from a position of relative strength.

While the aviation roller-coaster seems far from running its course, for Qantas at least, the ride may prove less “white knuckle” than previously.

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