Qantas CEO, Geoff Dixon has been a busy boy these past two and a bit months, travelling to Europe for the Airbus A380 launch, fighting off Singapore Airlines, kicking off the start of Jetstar Asia from Singapore. He’s been a non-stop whirlwind.

Then there’s been the warnings, the drum banging, the calls to arms about nasty competitors, wrong headed unions and employees. He’s been making more noise than a 747 to some in the airline game! In January he chatted to the Australian’s Steve Creedy and suddenly up to 7,000 Australian jobs were headed off overseas.

Here a report on the Qantas plans from the AM – Qantas and unions likely to clash over offshore plans

Then last month at the interim profit result more talk of change, despite a 28% lift in earnings from the ABC – Qantas profit soars 28pc

As well, in the blizzard of interviews and briefings afterwards there were suggestions that Qantas Catering and Qantas Holidays might be closed down, floated or sold. There was also news of a re-examination of Qantas from top to bottom, or as Geoff Dixon told Business Sunday, from when passengers first contact the airline to the time they leave.

Jobs could be under pressure, but no numbers given.

Now another ‘leak’ and ‘threat’, this time to the favoured Tansy Harcourt at The Australian Financial Review, (it’s in the premium section), so here’s a summary of that story from AAP.

Yep, more of the same with the 3,000 figure a bit rubbery on closer inspection of a story that has all the sights and smells of a ‘beat-up’. A typical inspired leak to concentrate the minds of employees and analysts in case their attention had wavered, or Dixon felt the message was not blunt enough.

So now we are up to 10,000 jobs or so leaving Australia. The Spirit of Australia?

Actually the maths in the AFR story were suitably rubbery. Qantas employs around 35,000 people and Dixon boasted at the interim profit announcement and in later interviews that Qantas has added 10,000 jobs in ten years, which he told Business Sunday on the Nine Network put Qantas right up there with Coles Myer and Woolworths.

So we get the situation of a proud boast about job creation and company building two weeks ago, buttressed by threats of job cuts or departures for overseas in January and March.

When’s the Qantas message ever going to focus on the enormous positives that it is one of the best run airlines in the world, admittedly with the help of a nice cosy duopoly in Australia.

The latest inspired story to the AFR smells more like another round of softening up and scaremongering by Dixon in case Singapore Airlines manages to poke its nose onto the Trans-Pacific routes.

He of course used Tansy Harcourt and the AFR letters pages last year to launch a pre-emptive strike on the evils of (big) government supported airlines, like Singapore and Emirates.

Don’t you wish the AFR would one day call his bluff?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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