How much clearer does the message from Hanoi to Qantas need to be?
In October last year it told Jetstar Pacific it could no longer use the Jetstar brand on the 27% owned franchise after this October, on the expiry of the commercial agreement between Qantas and the investment arm of the Vietnamese government, which owns a 70% stake.
In December it refused to allow two Australian executives in the carrier to leave the country pending investigations into a fuel hedging loss of around $33 million.
This week it is officially complaining about safety issues perpetrated, allegedly, by the carrier’s Australian management, which in vague terms, it described as putting ‘flights at risk’.
Hmm. There seems to be a pattern emerging here. You can’t be Jetstar anymore, you are responsible for losing tens of millions of dollars, and you’re unsafe.
The murmurings from Qantas in response to this so far would leave shareholders wondering how attuned to the fate of their $US 50 million investment in Vietnam the company really is, since it keeps expressing confidence these problems, where or if they exist, can be overcome.
There has to be another side to the story, the Qantas side, which is capable of being expressed in more than vague nothings. It is obvious that the safety allegations, which were first circulated with less drama last year, have now been wheeled out as a third dose of pressure by the communist regime in Vietnam on an airline that appears to be deaf.
It is just possibly becoming clearer to Qantas that it will only be able to stay in Vietnam as a minority holder in a low cost domestic carrier after the depositing of lots of money with the majority holder, maybe, and that if this is curable with money it seems unlikely that this minority investment will be able to identify itself as anything to do with Jetstar. How appealing is that?