Aviation

Virgin Aus Asia bound and talks privatisation

Virgin Australia held its annual general meeting (AGM) in Brisbane this week, and boy do we have some catching up to do.

Two big pieces of news came out of the meeting, firstly that the airline will debut a second Asia route, and secondly talks and rumblings about a potential privatisation of the company.

Let’s tackle the new Asian route first.

During his address, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said the airline was ready for Asian expansion, however now needs to secure an Asian airport.

“We’ve got the aircraft, we’re just missing the (airport) slots and we’re working on that.”

“We’re working hard on getting additional slots in a couple of cities (which) could be Hong Kong or in China or anywhere else (in Asia).”

“I’d like to think by this time next year we will have those slots, but it’s a process,” Borghetti added.

“People said 12 months ago ‘You’ll never get slots in Hong Kong, but we now have seven’, so by this time next year I’m hopeful we will be flying”.

The route will likely be Hong Kong or China, with the airline estimating it will be up and running by this time next year.

In September, Virgin Australia announced it would be boosting its frequency to Hong Kong with the carrier set to fly daily return services from Melbourne to the Asian destination from 12 November.

Now onto the looming privatisation.

The topic was discussed by Virgin Australia Chairman Elizabeth Bryan during her address, we she said that while the company has spoken about the possibility of privatisation, there was no confirmation as of yet.

“The board has held discussions about privatisation; however, there is no outcome to report to the market at this stage,” Bryan said.

Bryan said that first and foremost, she has a responsibility to assure minority shareholders’ interests were represented by the Board.

“The Group has a small free float and many have asked the question of whether it is appropriate to remain listed, or to become a privately held company.”

“As an independent chair with a large and varied shareholder base, I am particularly conscious of what a small free float means for our minority shareholders,” Bryan said.

“It is my responsibility, and that of all our directors, to ensure that the interests of the minority shareholders are represented at the Board.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure that we act in the best interests of all shareholders and in the long-term interest of the company,” she added.

Virgin also posted a $3.7 million underlying pre-tax loss for the 2017 financial year.

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