Qantas is making major changes to its corporate structure that will allow it to attract new foreign shareholders for its international business following a full fiscal year record loss of A$2.8 billion ($2.6 billion).
The new structure will see the creation of a holding company that will oversee separate domestic and international entities. A move of this type has been expected due to the government’s recent relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions that apply to Qantas.
The carrier said the changes will increase its potential to seek overseas investment in the international operation, although foreign ownership will still be limited to 49%. Joyce said there are no such deals currently under consideration, but it gives Qantas the flexibility to seek new international partners in the long term.
Because of the creation of the new structure, Qantas decided to reassess the value of the international fleet, a move that caused most of the net loss. The A$2.6 billion write-down is largely the result of historic aircraft purchases made when the Australian dollar was worth significantly less versus the US dollar.
The carrier’s pre-tax underlying loss of A$646 million for the 2014 fiscal year was not as high as analysts had been predicting. CEO Alan Joyce estimates that a restructuring program introduced in February will result in the carrier returning to an underlying profit for the fiscal half year through Dec. 31.
Qantas decided against fully or partially divesting parts of its business, and it confirmed it will not be increasing the 5,000 layoffs that have already been announced.
The carrier had previously outlined order deferrals and early retirements affecting about 50 aircraft, and it has now added to this list.
Qantas has deferred 21 current-generation Airbus A320 orders for four years and converted them to A320neos. This boosts the A320neo order total to 99 aircraft. Five more A320ceo orders have also been cut.
Additional aircraft will be sold in its fiscal year 2015, including two Boeing 737-800s, and two Bombardier Q300s. Leases will not be renewed on two Airbus A330-200s and they will exit the fleet in the first half of FY2016.
Further changes to the widebody fleet plan will see the first of the carrier’s 50 787-9 options and purchase rights deferred from 2016 to 2017. Qantas has previously signaled that it plans to exercise these rights, but only when the international business returns to profitability.