Contrary to many headlines declaring chaos and panic, Qantas planes are still successfully defying gravity, which is nice as I spent 10 hours or so on one yesterday.

QF 129 departed nearly on time and arrived in Shanghai as scheduled. Despite being a full flight (aren’t they all these very profitable days?), the crew in cattle class were friendly and efficient throughout.

Which is the thing to remember during the present corporate shenanigans: the people who really run Qantas are continuing to run Qantas. The chairman and a couple of top executives may or may not depart and the airline won’t miss a beat. There may be a little chaos among the bungling bidders but that just provides entertainment.

In the immediate aftermath of shareholders exercising their right not to sell and hedge funds stuffing up, the position of the chairwoman is extremely difficult because she made the mistake of abusing her shareholders, not because she recommended the bid.

The position of the board itself is far from untenable. They had to recommend the bid to allow shareholders to decide whether they wanted it or not. If the board had rejected the bid and not allowed shareholders to make their decision, they would have been pilloried unmercifully.

The record shows that most Qantas shareholders did indeed think the price was acceptable. All the major shareholders bar two sold out or sold very sharply down well before Friday’s deadline. There were some quite notable long-term holders who bailed very early in the process.

As to the CEO’s position, as long as Geoff Dixon was not involved in any way in the initial private equity approach, backing it afterwards is not a totally unacceptable problem. If too many shareholders think it is, well, Dixon is 67 and Qantas should have succession planning in hand anyway.

As for the idea that the senior management team will all walk out… why? They are better paid at Qantas than they would be at any of their main competitors. Ditto the CEO. They can either do their job or they’re no great loss. The airline goes on.

Qantas has continued to function and make decisions during this saga and will continue to do so afterwards. The reality is that plenty of good people run it — and the vast majority of them weren’t going to be collecting bonuses from APA.

I somehow can’t see too many folks at the big end of town telling the likes of James Packer, Paul Anderson and Peter Cosgrove that they’re incompetent and a disgrace. No — they allowed the market to work, helped by some other parties’ incompetence.

Some of the APA members themselves, well that’s another story. Allco Equity Partners in particular should simply be wound up as it has distinguished itself only by repeatedly failing to make its investors any money during an incredible market boom.

Let the market games continue with the Qantas share price — the whole saga has finally won it the appreciation it deserves.

Peter Fray

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