Before Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon and his board
are again allowed to dip into the Canberra honey jar of special perks
and protection, they should explain how they wasted more than $60
million on the Jetstar Asia experiment, which is going belly-up.

The
failure of Jetstar Asia has been a gradually unfolding story that
Qantas hasn’t wanted to discuss – but now the impending failure is out
in the open (see this report in the SMH).

Even
more galling for Dixon is the fact that he sent one of his trusted
acolytes, Ken Ryan, to Singapore to run Jetstar Asia, without any
success. Even though the Singapore government’s investment arm Temasek
Holdings is a shareholder in Jetstar Asia, along with two local
businessmen, this wasn’t enough to make it fly.

Qantas didn’t
negotiate with other governments like Indonesia and China to allow more
flights by Jetstar Asia, instead launching with high ambitions but poor
preparation and suffering a string of setbacks, including rising fuel
prices and the inability to gain access to key destinations.

Qantas
is in talks with another Singapore budget carrier, Valuair, about
“closer links” – which really means “take this failing investment off
our hands.”

Peter Fray

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