Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Qantas to fly first non-stop route from Darwin to Heathrow

The Australian airline Qantas is to fly stranded British tourists in Australia back to the UK with a special flight from Darwin to London Heathrow. 

The airline usually operates via Singapore,  however, due to travel restrictions and the inflexibility od the Singapore Authorities Qantas has had to look at alternative operations. The airline will fly one of its double-decked A380's fro Sydney to Darwin,  where it refuels and then flies onwards to London Heathrow non-stop;

It is estimated the flight will take nearly 17 hours and is said to be the first commercial non-stop flight between the two destinations.  Qantas has stopped all its international flights until the end of May because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis 

The Qantas Group has completed a new round of debt funding, securing $1.05 billion in additional liquidity to strengthen its position as it manages through the Coronavirus outbreak.

This debt has been secured against part of the Group’s fleet of unencumbered aircraft[1], which were bought with cash in recent years. The loan has a tenure of up to 10 years at an interest rate of 2.75 per cent.

This funding increases the Group’s available cash balance to $2.95 billion with an additional $1 billion undrawn facility remaining available.

The Group’s net debt position remains at the low end of its target range, at $5.1 billion, with no major debt maturities until June 2021. In line with the rest of the Qantas debt book, the new funding contains no financial covenants.

With a further $3.5 billion in unencumbered assets, the Qantas Group retains flexibility to increase its cash balance as a prudent measure in the current climate. As previously announced, various steps have been taken to significantly reduce activity levels and costs given the dramatic revenue impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the related travel restrictions on Jetstar and Qantas passenger services.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Over the past few years we’ve significantly strengthened our balance sheet and we’re now able to draw on that strength under what are exceptional circumstances. Everything we’re doing at the moment is focused on guaranteeing the long term future of the national carrier, including making sure our people have jobs to return to when we have work for them again.”

[1] Seven of the Group’s 11 wholly-owned Boeing 787-9s have been securitised against this funding.

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