Aviation

Speculation mounts over future of Jetstar’s Pacific arm

Rumours of a future change in ownership of Jetstar’s Vietnam-based offshoot have emerged, with reports speculating Qantas could exit its minority stake in the airline.

Multiple reports from international and domestic media have alleged Qantas’ budget airline, Jetstar, is in discussions with its joint-venture partner Vietnam Airlines about the future of Jetstar Pacific.

It follows rumours aired by Vietnamese media that Qantas was moving to exit its 30 per cent stake in the airline.

Jetstar Pacific was established in 2007 under Alan Joyce (then leader of Jetstar) with Vietnam Airlines to build the flying kangaroo’s presence in Asia through the Jetstar brand.

According to VietnamNet, the two owners have been in discussions for “several months” about Vietnam Airlines taking full ownership of Jetstar Pacific, with talks ongoing.

Travel Weekly has reached out to Jetstar for comment.

However, in a statement to the The Sydney Morning Herald, a Jetstar spokeswoman said the airline was “in regular dialogue with our partner Vietnam Airlines about Jetstar Pacific, particularly given the challenges facing all carriers at present”.

“However, we don’t comment on speculation and we have no material changes to announce,” she said.

Oliver Lamb, managing director of Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting, told SMH he would not be surprised if Qantas exited Jetstar Pacific at a time when it was looking to save cash and reduce non-core operations.

“Everyone’s been wondering how long Jetstar Pacific’s operations were going to last, and whether or not it’s actually core to what Jetstar wants to achieve in Asia,” he told the outlet.

“If Qantas is looking to release cash or is looking at non-core assets, then Vietnam is probably central to that.”

An Airbus A350-900 operated by Vietnam Airlines (iStock.com/Pavel Byrkin)

The speculation over Jetstar Pacific mounts as Vietnam Airlines revealed its plan to divest its reported 49 per cent stake in Cambodia’s Angkor Air, as reported in post-audit notes to the airline’s 2019 consolidated financial statement released on Friday.

According to multiple reports, Vietnam’s national carrier linked the decision to divest in Angkor Air to the impacts of COVID-19 over the last three months.

Airlines internationally have been battered by international and domestic travel bans introduced to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) yesterday released updated analysis showing that the crisis will see airline passenger revenues drop by US$314 billion ($489 billion) in 2020 – a 55 per cent decline compared to 2019.

On 24 March, IATA estimated US$252 billion ($409.17 billion) in lost revenues (down 44 per cent versus 2019) in a scenario with severe travel restrictions lasting three months.

In Qantas’ case, this has seen the grounding of its entire fleet and the temporary standing down of two-thirds of its 30,000 employees.

Featured image: iStock.com/HuyThoai

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