#virginaustralia

QLD gov’t to subsidize the rest of Australia on Virgin bailout?

AA

You have to hand it to the Queensland Government’s absolute lack of awareness. It has intimated that it might fork over $200m in loans to rescue the airline. To call any airline a “family jewel” means one probably thinks Great Wall is the pinnacle of luxury auto brands.

Perhaps what Premier Palazczuk and Treasurer Trad miss is that by using Queensland taxpayer funds they would effectively grant residents in other states the full benefit of Virgin’s recovery for free. Furthermore, if Virgin didn’t manage to pay back the monies, Queensland taxpayers would undoubtedly be caught in a zombie lending scenario. So the other states would still benefit. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg should be more than happy to see the sunshine state take his place.

We are surprised that so much umbrage is being taken at the idea of Chinese money coming in to subsidize the troubled airline. There is a sense of irony to see people cry nationalism when the airline has largely been owned by foreigners, 40% from China for a considerable time.

It is not as though the Chinese would treat Virgin Airlines like cans of baby milk powder and take all their planes home. Any rational investor would want to own a profitable airline based on juicy slot allocations rather than pursue relentless growth by building parallel tracks to already unprofitable destinations.

Sure, having an airline that boosts competition is a wonderful thing. We agreed with distressed debt specialist Jonathan Rochford’s summary which suggested insolvency as the best path forward. That way, hard decisions would be forced on Virgin and the restructuring would leave no stone unturned. Aircraft leasing companies have gone through this dance before and would be only too willing to act sensibly to help in the rebirth, especially given the appalling state of rail or road alternatives.

We understand people want to play hardball with China in a post-COVID19 world for its willful neglect shown during the pandemic. However, we must not let irrational fears turn away investment that benefits us, just because it is from China. Aussie investors haven’t supported Virgin much since the IPO in 2003. So why not let the Chinese do their dough? If we embraced their capitalist streak, were this investment to lower ticket prices, would we really complain? Or would we protest the idea that Qantas’ future might be at risk?

As comedian Dave Allen once said bout airlines, “they would make more money by leaving the planes at the gate and burning piles of cash on the runway!

Why insolvency is the best option for Virgin

Virgin Australia | Climate Active

Narrow Road Capital’s Jonathan Rochford believes that insolvency is the best option for Virgin Australia. The common misconception with insolvency is that most people think that means termination. Not so. Insolvency allows companies to take a long hard look at the business and restructure in ways to ensure the rebirth makes for a healthier business on the other side. The most important point to make is that the sooner the pain is taken, the better the ultimate outcomes.

We recall the last time American Airlines went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it ordered 900 brand new Airbus & Boeing aircraft the VERY NEXT DAY. Why? Because the leasing companies knew that helping the ailing airline by restructuring its fleet with more efficient aircraft would facilitate a quicker revival. Insolvency is all about forcing hard questions to be asked and executed upon, not waiting for endless lifebuoys to be tossed when all options haven’t been properly assessed.

Over to Jonathan:

“Virgin Australia has been poorly managed and poorly capitalised for years. Whilst the Coronavirus lock-down is the most recent cause of its woes it is merely the latest in a long list of excuses. Qantas had its turn with the begging bowl in early 2014, I wrote then that the Australian Government should deny it a bailout as it wasn’t necessary. A bailout would have gotten in the way of Qantas fixing its problems, which it ultimately did without government help. The situation is somewhat different for Virgin, it is most likely to go into administration without a bailout. However, insolvency is the best pathway for Virgin as it is the best opportunity to fix the longstanding problems.

The Problems with Virgin

Virgin’s structural problems are the result of years of mismanagement. It is trapped between being much more expensive than Jetstar and with a lesser offering than Qantas, although routinely being almost as expensive as Qantas. As a result, Virgin has consistently struggled to attract the high paying customers and load factors that would take it from being a loss maker to a strong competitor.

Virgin’s ongoing financial problems are no secret. After an IPO at $2.25 in 2003, its shares have rarely traded above $0.50 in the last decade. The company has pursued growth over profits adding marginal routes that weighed down the good business it had servicing the capital city routes. This failed strategy has left the airline overloaded with aircraft. The sale and subsequent repurchase of part of the frequent flyer business has left it loaded with debt, with most of the fleet and the frequent flyer business locked up by secured creditors.

The Alternatives to Insolvency

Virgin is now pursuing a dual pathway to attempt to remain solvent, searching for fresh equity whilst at the same time negotiating with lenders for a debt restructuring. Whilst either of these, or both in combination would give the business more time, both are likely to be fruitless endeavours. Virgin needs to go through a deep restructuring of its entire business including;

-Handing back/selling off aircraft it will not need in the medium term

-Making redundant staff it cannot put to work in the medium term

-Negotiating with suppliers for cheaper goods and services

-Reducing office space and corporate overheads

All of this needs to be done at the same time as the business is burning through cash, estimated to be at a rate of $5-7 million per day. Without most of the fleet being back in the air and carry near capacity loads, a situation extremely unlikely in 2020, Virgin will simply run out of cash. Even if all the unsecured debt was converted to equity it would make little difference to the cost base. The only feasible option to right size the business is voluntary administration.

The Earlier the Better for Insolvency

Given Virgin has limited cash left and is rapidly burning through it, an insolvency in a matter of weeks offers the best prospects of preserving a broad business. The less cash that is left when insolvency begins, the more likely it is that Virgin will follow in the footsteps of Ansett and be sold off for scrap. With a decent starting cash balance and in the current economic environment administrators would have a strong hand to:

-Cut a new deal on the greatly reduced number of aircraft that will be needed; aircraft lenders and lessors will be reluctant to take back aircraft given the current glut and economic outlook. [note FNF Media mentioned the history of actions by leasing companies here]

-Reduce staff numbers and cut staff costs back to levels in line with a low-cost carrier; remaining staff will be glad to still have a job.

-Negotiate with airports for reduced charges; the alternative for airports is being left with a dominant customer that is already throwing its weight around.

-Slash debt levels and reduce the balance of unsecured creditors

-Hand back office space and eliminate unnecessary corporate overheads

A leaner Virgin, with a lower cost base and greatly reduced liability position, has good prospects of attracting new owners and winning back customers. Only an insolvency can deliver this outcome. The alternatives of fresh equity, a debt for equity swap or a government bailout, if put in place without insolvency, would all delay and obstruct the necessary restructuring and increase the risk that Virgin ultimately ends up like Ansett.”

RACGP alarmism should be driving the AMA not climate

AMA.pngThe Royal Australian College of General Practitioners logo

Now it all makes sense. The Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) latest push on climate change doesn’t appear to be about saving the planet but looking to safeguard its own survival. AMA’s main rival association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) seems to be on the right prescription medication as far as membership growth and revenue goes. 

The AMA’s climate push seems to be a concerted effort to lock in future revenues by appealing to students. AMA ‘Associate Medical Student Members‘ have ballooned in the last two years from 8,664 to 15,311 to offset the (pardon the pun) flatline in regular members which have hovered a shade under 30,000 members since 2016. Previous AMA annual reports (AR) make no mention of hard membership numbers. The 2015 AR made reference to 30,000+ members which suggest it wasn’t 31,000+. Students, who now represent over 1/3rd of members, can join for free. Undoubtedly the strategy lies in the hope those students roll over to become fully paid members when they start to practice.

Last year, Dr Bill Coote, former Secretary-General of the AMA (1992-98) wrote in Medical Republic,

In 1962, more than 95% of doctors belonged to the AMA. By 1987 it was 50%. AHPRA reports that in 2016 there were 107,179 registered medical practitioners. The 2016 AMA annual report notes a membership of 29,425. That is 27% of doctors.

Since 2012, AMA annual membership collections have shown relatively anaemic growth from around $11m in 2012 to $12.4m in 2018 from its 29,659 full paying members. Revenues have shown similarly slow growth. Revenues (ex any asset sales) have grown from $20.29m in 2012 to $22.35m in 2018. 10% growth over 6 years.

What of the RACGP?

The RACGP has 35,385 full members and 5,493 student members. Moreover, the group collected $34.6m in membership fees in 2018, near as makes no difference three times the AMA.

Isn’t this just a classic case of customers appreciating what they pay for? Will those AMA student members work out – when forced to shell out hard dollars on membership – as they embark on their medical career that the RACGP is the go-to organisation? Any manner of conference cocktail parties will undoubtedly whisper the realities of membership benefits of both organisations. Surely the more seasoned doctors will make their preferences known. After all, students are more likely to pin their formative years to guru practitioners in the profession rather than lean on the musings of an association that provides cheaper hire car tariffs and frequent flyer club perks.

Revenues for the RACGP have more than doubled from $38.6m in 2012 to $83.1m in 2018.

Maybe Dr. Coote has found the problem when he wrote, ”

AMA members’ fees fund the Medical Journal of Australia. The MJA is uniquely positioned to promote serious commentary on the policy, regulatory and economic changes reshaping Australian medical practice, but now seems to prioritise the interests of academic doctors...The decline in AMA membership penetration from 95% to 50% to 27% of doctors is a significant historical trend.  A US management guru once suggested, organisations are at risk if they respond to a changing environment by redoubling their efforts to do things the way they have always done them…Let’s hope the AMA does not become the Kodak of Australian medical history.”

Climate change might seem to be a woke avenue to do things differently at the AMA, but surely it stands to learn a lot more by studying why the RACGP is surgically keeping it in the ICU rather than pursue fields it has no expertise in an attempt to revive itself. If the AMA board pursues such amputated strategies it is bound to find itself running out of bandages before its members realise that cauterizing membership cash flow is the only viable long term option.

Greta, the poster child for a dysfunctional education system

Greta.png

You have to hand it to the left. They truly have indoctrination down pat. While there is a sense of awe at the sheer number of kids who attended Friday’s protests around the world at the expense of school (in some cases even exams), 16yo Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, the poster child for ‘climate change’, has exposed how dysfunctional our educational system has become. Forget discipline. Dismiss reasoned discussion. Conform and get rewarded for it.

CM has always felt sorry for Greta’s exploitation. She typifies the style of propaganda used over generations. The way that the UN, EU or World Economic Forum hang off her every word. It is deeply embarrassing. Made worse by the hypocrisy of 1,500 private jets used to fly to hear her speak in Davos.

Many teachers and parents of these kids are no better. Often espousing patronizing and sanctimonious sermons about the intelligence of the youth today. Not to worry, Extinction Rebellion has even published a piece on hypocrisy. Thomas Sinclair wrote,

Someone who doesn’t know the evidence might perhaps be persuaded to review it. But someone who thinks I’m a hypocrite may suppose that I’ve reviewed the evidence and am acting on it — so she can skip the review herself and take my actions as her guide.” Take that!

He goes on,

However, XR can do better than the standard response. The most important point is this. There is no hypocrisyDriving to XR protests, or using vinyl banners, or eating a Pret sandwich at an XR roadblock — these are not hypocritical actions. Hypocrisy is a matter of preaching one thing but practising another. But what XR preaches is a radical change of the system within which we must make our choices, not of the choices we make within the system as it stands.

What infallible logic! How could we be so obtuse? Those kids CM found eating McDonald’s before the climate strike were completely aware of their actions. They were “highlighting” the problem of the fast-food chain’s utter disdain for the planet to serve food in single-use plastics and paper packaging. It was a cry to get McDonald’s to change its wicked ways. Or was it they were just oblivious to the fact that, while gorging on hamburgers, fries and thick shakes, were unable to fathom their own double standards. Lucky for them, Sinclair has a get out of jail free card. Who knew?

It wasn’t so long ago that a CIS study in Australia revealed that 58% of millennials had a favourable view of socialism. Unfortunately, 51% did not know who Chairman Mao was. Another 32% did not know Stalin and 42% hadn’t heard of Lenin. If we combine with “know but not familiar” with “don’t know” we see almost 80%, 66% and 74% respectively. Oh, how wonderful to learn in school about three men whose social policies led to the deaths of 10s of millions. Unbeknownst to them, many of their teachers follow the same Marxist mindset.

What more proof do you need when an RMIT senior lecturer tweeted he’d award full marks for 5% of the course for those that attended provided they sent in a selfie. Presumably, those that didn’t submit a selfie would be secretly docked marks. RMIT made a glib response to the professor’s tweet which went along the lines of defending the indefensible. Pathetic. He should be severely reprimanded or sacked for completely unprofessional conduct.

Corporations often complain about the difficulty in hiring the skills they need to grow. Shouldn’t they now be extra wary that the degrees awarded to those they are looking to hire have been issues on the basis of aligned participation, not academic effort? Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah might make noise about having to be big on social justice to attract the next generation but if they attend schools which openly support activism quite frankly they are all theirs! CM would prefer investing in companies that hire kids who got their education that cost $2.50 in late charges at the public library.

CM has written before on the slipping standards in Aussie education. Is it any wonder when a growing number of teachers are radical activists. Our education system needs a massive overhaul. Our ranks in maths, science and literacy have all been heading south. We aren’t teaching our kids that the real world out there is a touch place. Wrapping them in cotton wool will not serve them at all in later life. That will ironically be the real impact of chasing climate change agendas and the misguided policy that was enacted due to weak-willed authorities.

Although don’t get too excited about a sea change in thinking to fix this awful course. The latest 2019 OECD report has been captured by the warming cult, justifying worsening trends in education on shifts in society, even going so far as to quote (p.16) Decca Records rejecting The Beatles back in 1962 as evidence of how we can get it wrong.

Justifying – although not admitting – the slip (denoted as a “shift”) in education standards on climate change is insane in the extreme. Lucky for us there is a summary version written by the OECD. The full report is here. 479 pages of blather.

There are too many examples of schools around the globe folding to this Marxist nonsense. In the past, student bodies embracing Marxism as a fad were par for the course. Now the university faculties are the drivers. For example:

Posters from the University of San Francisco (uSF) point at white students so they appropriately check their privilege. Karl Marx may have recently turned 200 but his legacy lives and breathes in California. So much for universities being the cradle of free and open thinking.

The Inclusive Communications Task Force at the Colorado State University has introduced an appropriate language guide and it has deemed the words “America” and “Americans” might prove offensive to some and have discouraged their use on campus.

The University of Texas launched, “MasculinUT”, a program which was organized by the school’s counselling staff with a poster series encouraging students to develop a “healthy model of masculinity.” The program is built around “restrictive masculinity” and tries to encourage men to drop traditional gender roles to “act like a man”, be “successful” or “the breadwinner.”

Dr. Aaron Brough of Utah State University conducted a study to see if there is a correlation between toxic masculinity and climate change. His assumptions ran the line that men see environmentalism as more feminine and get triggered if forced to make ecological choices if they feel threatened.

The University of Melbourne allowed an artistic performance that required “paying” white customers access on the basis of signing an acknowledgement of white privilege. The $600mn+ taxpayer-funded University of Melbourne’s motto is Postera Cescam Laude, which is Latin for “We shall grow in the esteem of future generations.” It is not clear whether the founders of the UoM had Marxist theories at the forefront of their minds in 1853. Growing the esteem of future generations was not to come by cutting down those whose passions as individuals cause them to strive for greatness. Yet the radical leftists believe esteem comes, not from effort, but allocation.

Don’t think that the indoctrination begins in secondary or tertiary education. From tender ages, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria, some educational apparatchiks believe a grandparent kissing their grandchild can violate them and can be considered assault. In what world does a grandparent showing affection to their own flesh and blood have incest on their minds? Most likely never.

It would seem to CM that the most important Royal Commission to be conducted is on our education system. From Safe School programs to universities, Australia’s long term future is being seriously impacted by utterly valueless indoctrination. We will not be the lucky country for much longer because this garbage is already seeping into corporate board rooms.

Note CM in no way thinks Greta Thunberg is associated with Nazis.

Qantas & Virgin answering questions nobody is asking

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah have told the National Press Club that part of the role of their businesses is to back social issues. Puhlease.

Have shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favour of Joyce deploying their funds to sponsor woke causes? No one is stopping Joyce from pushing whatever virtue signaling he likes in his own time, but he probably might reflect that most of his customers haven’t requested to be lectured on board. Scurrah is the newbie, so he seems to want to score some media attention.

The latest excuse to push this corporate social nonsense is the unfounded research that kids of today require their corporates to have these woke causes embedded in the culture for them to join. What happened to “employer of choice” based on the business model? Will budding pilots want to pick the airline with the best conditions and business survivability or that which has the best carbon offset programme? Truth be told, what young ecomentalist university graduate wants to join an evil carbon dioxide producing airline anyway?

Having said that, employee retention will not favour wokeness when pay and conditions remain crimped by misguided company policy vs more attractive opportunities at firms that focus less on this. Harvey Norman is exhibit A on that measure. It is crushing the competition.

Qantas only needs to look internally at its own carbon offset program and how dismal it is. While it might be the world’s largest, truth is around 2% elect to pay for the sin of flying.

Back in May 2018, CM noted, while waiting in the lounge,

“So to offset my flight to Haneda, CM would pay $11.21 AUD. CM can put it to ‘local action’ (fund activism?), ‘developing communities’ or ‘global renewables’. In its 2017 Annual Report, Qantas boasted,

We have the world’s largest airline offset program and have now been carbon offsetting for over 10 years. In 2016/17, we reached three million tonnes offset.”

Carbon calculators tend to work on the assumption of 0.158kg CO2/passenger kilometre.

In the last 10 years Qantas has flown around 1 trillion revenue passenger kilometres. While the literature in the annual report denotes one passenger offsets every 53 seconds, the mathematical reality is simple – 2% of miles are carbon offset. So that means that 98% of people couldn’t care less.

Perhaps more embarrassing is that The Guardian noted in Jan 2018 that,

Qantas [was the] worst airline operating across Pacific for CO2 emissions

Kind of a massive load of hot air when you do the maths!

Mr Joyce might earn $24m p.a. CM would reckon shareholders would be glad to hike that if he ditched the social justice nonsense.

Qantas service is rarely anything to rave about so more effort applied in that area could well serve the company’s (and shareholder’s) interests far better than answering question hardly anyone is asking.

Losing my Virgin-ity to the veteran community

va-logo-2018

Virgin Australia has copped a lot of flack over its unsolicited offer to prioritize veterans when boarding and to announce gratitude for their service. Sadly the plan has been savaged in the media as virtue signaling and riding the political wave of the PM to back discounts for those who served. Many veterans have come forward saying they have not asked to be saluted in this manner. Many of them wish to be thought of like you and I.

We can sit back and criticize the airline for not doing more due diligence with the veteran community, yet we should not overlook that CEO John Borghetti would have made this decision with absolute rock solid sincerity, thinking of the vets, not how he could win free publicity which is often the norm these days. Had preferential boarding treatment been given to an oppressed minority community he would have probably been championed as a hero of social justice. All of the media that smashed the airline – The Guardian, Fairfax et al would have praised the progressive action. Let us not forget that Virgin’s move was above all made with “good intentions.”

My first recollection of John Borghetti happened almost 20 years ago after some utterly dreadful Qantas service, where he happened to be working at the time. Despite receiving a relatively textbook letter of apology from the Chairman, John personally called me to “connect” with this disgruntled customer. No excuses were given. No attempts were made to cover up the pitiful customer service. He listened because he wanted to learn. He was authentic. No training manual could have taught John what he did. You cannot learn sincerity from a textbook. You either are or you aren’t. The veteran community should know that they will undoubtedly get the exact same ‘ear’ from the CEO to best address needs going forward and I encourage them to speak frankly to him.

As a civilian who is now working alongside veterans I’ve learnt more this year about how wrong many of my preformed notions were with respect to former service men and women. I’ve met veterans suffering from PTSD. I’ve met a war widows who lost veteran husbands to suicide. I spent a week at the Invictus Games seeing how these amazing warriors were ‘unconquered.’ I’ve met veterans, young and old, who are struggling to reintegrate into the workforce at an event. The issues are real. I have seen the amazing work done by veterans trying to find unique ways to help their former mates reintegrate into society. I suggest we embrace Virgin and refocus their positivity.

I am honoured to be given the opportunity to work alongside veterans to make this journey and learn every day. In a sense my mission is in part to represent the civilian community to make them understand veteran needs. There are so many positive ways to affect change and move away from the growing negativity thrown at events like Anzac Day as a celebration of warmongers where our media can be as brazen to criticize brave diggers as rapists, murderers and thieves.

Put simply, we civilians absolutely owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served. How we do it is open to debate. This is at its very roots of the Virgin move. To see the board cower to public pressure and look to rescind the offer on the basis of the constant negativity so prevalent today is the wrong move. Better still, Borghetti’s sincerity should be front and centre here. There is no market collapsing “damage control” risk for Virgin at stake. It is doubtful that veterans will desert the boarding gates of Virgin to punish it.

It would be nice to see that corporate governance today teaches that holding firm on the courage of their convictions is paramount. If the board learns that it must do more due diligence, then so be it. Learn and move on. Don’t wave the white flag. I sincerely hope that the Virgin board doesn’t flake. The board represents shareholders, not the mainstream media.

If I know John Borghetti from my own personal experience, Virgin Australia can achieve what it set out to do. Helping vets.  Does Virgin divert its planes to alternative airports when bad weather arises or do they ditch the aircraft into the sea?  The board should approach this episode with the same attitude.