Qantas has caught Crikey’s attention for a variety of reasons over the
last couple of weeks – here’s a package of our recent coverage from
subscriber emails:

December 22 second subscriber email

Spare a thought for the fifty or
so super high flyers with Qantas as they struggle to decide which of
the two $500-plus bottles of wine, delivered personally by senior
Qantas executives this week, to drink first over the silly season.

And isn’t it good to know Qantas chair
Margaret Jackson is using her cross-directorships to good effect. The
$50,000 worth of fabulous plonk handed out around the executive suites
were none other than Penfolds, the flagship brand of Southcorp, where
Jacko became deputy chairman on fleeing the Fairfax board earlier this

Memo to the ATO: Make sure Qantas pays the FBT on these gifts and check if the big 50 declare them in their returns.

It would be interesting to know if
Southcorp threw them in as a bonus to Qantas executives or if the
Qantas board decided to dip into existing stocks that would normally be
offered in first class.

$8000 for a short bed from Qantas

Meanwhile, a short subscriber writes:

Qantas Skybeds, introduced with such fanfare at such a huge cost, are
for shorties only. I am 5 foot 7 inches and can just stretch out fully.
I can’t imagine that all those 6 foot or more people who have paid
their $8000 plus for a bed must think about being short-changed.

I know Qantas is paranoid about this
becoming public and have taken steps to try to control photo images of
the beds, expressing great concern that anyone who is photographed in
one is not too tall. Be interesting to compare the lengths of skybeds
on Qantas, BA, Singapore Airlines and – now -Virgin.

James Packer’s Qantas cross-promotion
December 23 subscriber email

It seems Margaret Jackson isn’t the only Qantas board member to do a little bit of cross-promoting when the opportunity arises.

The only brand of toiletries
advertised in the ladies’ bathroom in the Qantas Club is Jurlique. The
very same Jurlique that the Packer family recently extracted out of
Challenger in exchange for surrendering its management rights.

James Packer, of course, joined the Qantas board earlier this year in a bizarre move that baffled many observers.

The Packer family’s close links with
the AWU and people like Bill Shorten was thought to be useful for
Qantas’s ongoing industrial battles but apart from that, some critics
put the move down to more social climbing by Qantas chair Margaret

The Fairfax board was certainly not
amused to first discover that Jacko was considering an invitation to
join the News Corp board earlier this year and then later learnt that
she’d been courting James Packer to join her at Qantas whilst sitting
inside the tent at Fairfax.

No wonder Fairfax chairman Dean Wills
put out a terse statement when she jumped to become deputy chairman of
Southcorp, the wine provider of choice at Qantas.

The truth on Qantas and FBT
December 29 subscriber email

Steve the Tax Specialist writes:

Regarding your suggestion of FBT being
payable on the free wine provided to super-high flyers at Qantas –
sorry to spoil a good stir with the facts, but its unlikely FBT would
be payable for the following reasons:

  1. There is probably not an
    ‘arrangement’ between Qantas the employers of those individuals (the
    absence of an arrangement will mean FBT is not payable), and;
  2. As non-employees of
    Qantas, they could treat the benefits as non-deductible meal
    entertainment which does not incur FBT, and3. They’ll probably write it
    off in their accounts as ‘promotional’ costs anyway.

Steve (Tax specialist)

Meanwhile, a Qantas staffer moans:

Nice to know the the boys and girls at
the top are giving themselves chrissy presents/rewards this year, for
all their hard work. The general staff have had to pay for their own
Christmas parties. Sad state of affairs really, especially when
Southcorp could have supplied the drinks at least.

They just get more out of touch.