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Ansett's secret Qantas plan revealed

Friday 12th May 2000

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BRANDING UNVEILED: Flying Ansett will soon become flying Qantas
Airline's new identity will be a red kangaroo, GRAEME KENNEDY's investigation finds

A reborn Ansett New Zealand is expected to fly in formation with Qantas and share the Australian carrier's branding under a new agreement being finalised in Sydney this week.

The National Business Review can reveal the much touted rebranding as South Pacific Airlines was never a serious option.

Instead the existing commercial arrangement in which Ansett New Zealand is a Qantas interline and frequent flyer programme partner is being strengthened as the Australians prepare to put their mark on the New Zealand domestic airline.

Ansett New Zealand, bought last month by a consortium of New Zealand businessmen from 100%-owner News Ltd, will maintain its existing New Zealand management and staff but will carry the branding of the global Australian airline.

Qantas is understood to have agreed to a franchise-style deal in which its familiar flying red kangaroo will be carried on the Bae 146 aircraft operated by the "new" domestic carrier.

Qantas has identified a need for stronger exposure in New Zealand - particularly following rival Singapore Airlines' inroads into the region with its purchase of 25% of Air New Zealand.

A Qantas-branded Ansett New Zealand would continue to feed passengers into the Australian carrier's international network while the New Zealand domestic would have the solid backing of a major carrier to provide the worldwide service vital in bidding for corporate travel accounts.

Qantas branding also gives the new airline international recognition and status that could never be achieved with a name such as the much-touted South Pacific Airlines, which was considered too close to Sir Reginald Ansett's South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand (Spanz) which operated here for almost five years before going into receivership in the 1960s.

And with Qantas, the new Ansett New Zealand would gain from the wider benefits of the Oneworld global alliance the Australian airline shares with giants such as British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

The new airline launch is expected later this month or early June.

Ansett New Zealand was bought by a consortium put together by Auckland merchant bank Clavell Capital, whose principal David Belcher is executive deputy chairman to executive chairman Ken Cowley - the airline's chairman under News Ltd ownership.

Other directors are chief executive Kevin Doddrell, Tappenden Holdings' Trevor Farmer, David Skeggs of Dunedin's Skeggs Group and KPMG chairman Fred Watson.

Investors include Ian Hendry and Chris Coon of Sovereign Insurance, Alan Gibbs and Mr Farmer, the Skeggs Group, former Pacific Retail shareholder and managing director Greg Lancaster and Clavell partners Carl Peterson and Trevor Kerr.

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