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Robust Qantas ready to take on all comers

first_imgA robust Qantas says it is well-placed to weather the competitive aviation environment after posting a 25 per cent fall in half-yearly net profit due mainly to a one-off gain the previous year.The Australian carrier followed a record 2015-16 with a $515m net profit for the half year ending December 31, down from $688m the previous year.Qantas said the fall in statutory profit largely reflected the inclusion in last year’s result of the $A201m gain from the sale of its Sydney Airport terminal.The decrease in net profit was mirrored on the other side of the Tasman with rival Air New Zealand recording a 24.25 per cent drop in interim net profit to $NZ256m from $NZ338m  the previous year.The flying kangaroo posted an underlying pretax profit of $A852m,  7.5 per cent lower than the $A922m it posted in the same half the previous year but still the third best first half in its history.  The result was also slightly above the guidance the airline posted in October.Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the work done on the airline’s transformation program meant that it was it was delivering much better margins than many of its main competitors. For Qantas International, this meant a margin of 7.3 per cent compared to 4 per cent or less on the other big premium carriers in the region.“Everybody in the region is having bigger drops — 50 to 80 per cent —in their profitability,’’ he said. “The resilience of Qantas in this space is absolutely amazing because of the structure of our business and what we’ve done in transformation has given us that big advantage.”All parts of the Qantas group were profitable in the first half but earnings at the Qantas domestic and international operations were both down.Qantas domestic reported underlying earnings of $A371m, down $A16m, while the international arm posted earnings of $A208m, down $A62m. Revenue from the once vibrant resources sector was down $A50m, a fall that is expected to decrease to $30m in the second half and possibly flatten out in 2019.Earnings at the Jetstar group were up $A13m to a record $A275m while Qantas Loyalty recorded a result of $A181m, up$A5m.Revenue at the Australian carrier was down just 3.3 per cent to $A8.2 billion and Joyce described it as one of the best-performing airline groups in the world.“Our transformation program has built a strong, sustainable business that generates returns throughout the economic cycle,’’ he said.“Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic operations produced an outstanding result and Qantas Loyalty continued to thrive. It’s a combination that keeps delivering and sets us apart from our competitors.’“The international market is tough because of capacity growth and lower fares and Qantas International is not immune from those pressures. But the work we’ve done on removing costs and making the business more efficient means Qantas International is outperforming its peers in the region.“Our focus is to stay disciplined on capacity, keep downward pressure on costs and introduce game-changing improvements like the Dreamliner and high-speed wi-fi.’’The airline plans to boost group capacity by a modest 1-2 per cent in the second half and cut capacity on the domestic market by 2 per cent.But Joyce was optimistic about the prospects in both the domestic and international marketsHe said the resources sector was bottoming out and the buoyancy of the East Coast market in sectors such as financial services and construction had come through in the airline’s numbers.Group international capacity will rise 3 per cent due to previously announced changes, including services to Beijing and Japan, using the existing fleet to target the Asian market.While a spike in capacity on the kangaroo route between Australia and London had depressed yields, Joyce noted there was growth on markets such as Japan, the US and China.“But again, we’re happy and very comfortable with the Chinese growth because what’s happening in China is that there’s huge influx of Chinese tourists to Australia,’’ he said. “They’re travelling everywhere and our domestic business gets huge benefits associated with that.’’The efficiency drive will also continue with management targeting an annual average of $A400m in cost and revenue benefits from areas such as new aircraft and technology to keep the business sustainable.However, the group deferred the delivery of fuel-efficient Airbus A320 neos until fiscal 2019, saying it had other more immediate priorities for capital expenditure.  Officials denied this was in response to a similar move by Virgin Australia to delay delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.Qantas did not give any profit guidance but said underlying fuel costs were expected to be no more than $A3.2 billion.The airline will pay a dividend of $A7 cents per share and is still undertaking a share buyback.last_img read more

Sixty years on, the Freedom Charter is as relevant as ever

first_imgSixty years ago the Congress of the People gathered on a dusty field in Kliptown to draft the document that would lead South Africa to liberation. The Freedom Charter is the foundation for South Africa’s Constitution and its demands are as relevant now as they were in 1955. Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown was once a dusty field where 3 000 activists from the Congress of the People gathered to draw up the Freedom Charter. A monument to the to the document stands in the middle of the square. (Image: Shamin Chibba) • Recollections of 16 June 1976 • Saluting Sharpeville’s heroes, and South Africa’s human rights • Look how far we’ve come: Two decades of human rights • Eighteen years of the world’s best Constitution • 21 monuments for 21 years of freedom Media Club South Africa reporterIn the dark days of early apartheid rule on 26 June 1955, over 3 000 representatives of resistance organisations made their way through police cordons to gather on a dusty square in Kliptown, then a freehold area 40km in Johannesburg’s south.This was the Congress of the People, who met to draw up the Freedom Charter, an alternative vision to the repressive policies of the apartheid state.At the time, Nelson Mandela hid in the Takolia household to avoid the police. Today, just a blue and white shell of the structure remains in the Walter Sisulu Square.On the second day, authorities broke up the gathering but not before the charter was adopted as a guiding document. It remains the cornerstone of African National Congress (ANC) policy to this day, and is seen by many as the foundation of South Africa’s 1996 Constitution. The Freedom Charter monuments houses some of the document’s tenets. The original Freedom Charter document is currently displayed at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg. (Image: Shamin Chibba)That dusty field has now been declared a national heritage site, and on 26 June 2005 President Thabo Mbeki lit a flame of freedom in Kliptown to mark the opening of the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication – and 50 years of the Freedom Charter.Sam Takolia, 72, remembers Mandela jumping through an open window and his father hiding him away. Today, that very window frame remains intact.Takolia was just 12-years-old when the Congress of the People took place. He remembered people arriving by foot and donkey cart, hessian cloth used as a makeshift wall on the field and his family selling sandwiches and tea made by his mother. Children play in Walter Sisulu Square with the Takolia household in the background where Nelson Mandela hid away from police in 1955. (Image: Shamin Chibba)Charter a collection of ideas for a good lifeProfessor Zachariah Keodirelang “Z.K.” Matthews, then the ANC Cape president, proposed the idea of the Freedom Charter. Pamphlets were printed and distributed around the country, urging people to submit their ideas for “the good life that they seek for themselves and their children”, for the charter. The late anti-apartheid activist, Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein, wrote in his autobiography Memory against Forgetting that thousands of suggestions arrived, written on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, pages torn from school exercise books, and the backs of handbills.“When the great day was upon us,” wrote one participant afterwards, “we set out on our journey to Kliptown, many of us travelling hundreds of miles, wondering what was going to happen. For it was not as if we had been allowed to campaign in peace. Every meeting was watched by the special branch, our organisers were hounded and arrested, documents seized in raids.“Cars and lorries were stopped, contingents held back on one or other pretext until it was too late to continue their journey. Yet in spite of all the harassment and interference, about 3 000 delegates pierced the police cordon and arrived at Kliptown, where a patch of open ground had been prepared to seat the huge throng.“Just imagine the problems of organisation – 3 000 delegates had to be fed and housed. But from every point of view the Congress was an outstanding success.” A roadside food seller uses the shell of the Takolia house as a makeshift kitchen. (Image: Shamin Chibba)The various clauses of the charter were introduced, there was an opportunity for impromptu speeches from delegates present, and the clauses were then read out and acclaimed by a show of hands. The Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe – the highest honour awarded by the ANC – was awarded to Chief Albert Luthuli, president of the ANC, Yusuf Dadoo and Father Trevor Huddleston.Only Father Huddleston was able to accept his award at the Congress of the People, as Luthuli and Dadoo were under banning orders and unable to attend.In the afternoon of the second day proceedings were brought to a sudden close by the arrival of a large detachment of police bearing sten guns.They took over the speakers’ platform, confiscated all the documents they could find, announced that they had reason to believe that treason was being plotted, and took the names and addresses of all delegates before sending them home.But the Freedom Charter was signed a year later by Luthuli, and has remained the central document in ANC policy ever since.The Walter Sisulu SquareWalter Sisulu was a delegate at the 1955 Congress of the People, a major figure in the anti-apartheid struggle, deputy president of the ANC, underground activist and Rivonia treason trialist.Released from prison in 1989, he died in 2003, the year the R160-million Walter Sisulu Square project was initiated.When the judges chose Pierre Swanepoel’s design for the proposed square in 2002, they described it as bold, with an exemplary potential to change Soweto into a city. Nine years after the square was unveiled, that energy is still waiting to be generated.The aim was to use Kliptown’s rich history, as the meeting ground of the Congress of the People and the birthplace of the Freedom Charter, as a tool to boost tourism and transform the fortunes of the settlement. Hawkers within Walter Sisulu Square sell trinkets to tourists, like this stain glass of Nelson Mandela. (Image: Shamin Chibba)The square is now a tourist attraction, with two museums, a multi-purpose hall and the four-star Soweto Hotel. The Freedom Charter Memorial stands alone in the square, to remind people where the foundations of post-apartheid South Africa were laid. Swanepoel once likened the tower to the Great Zimbabwe ruins. Standing just outside its entrance is a flautist, dressed in the colours of the national flag, who busks for money from tourists. Inside are ten large triangular concrete slabs placed together to create a circle. Etched into each slab are the words of the Charter.The hotel’s dour concrete façade contradicts the flamboyance inside. The reception is subtly lit and its walls are adorned with photographs of Hugh Masakela, Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie. Each room captures South Africa’s particular aesthetic; rooms sport pillow cases that look like bags of maize, or a poster-sized photograph of Mandela above the bed.Today, just a few hawkers occupy the space in the empty square, selling trinkets such as painted ashtrays of South Africa’s Big Five and stained glass images of Mandela to tourists. Outside the square, Union Street is a litter-strewn strip lined by shops selling anything from cosmetics to hardware.In an interview with Al Jazeera in 2013, Takolia said he was happy that the square was built but added that more should have been done to improve living conditions in Kliptown. “There is barely a Kliptown left, just a few shops and then squatter camps. Yes, they should have built the square but they should have uplifted the community.”last_img read more

Show Us The Data: Time For Companies To Reveal What They Know About Us

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market john paul titlow Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Big Data#policy#privacy center_img California has proposed a potentially groundbreaking consumer privacy law. The Right To Know Act, if approved, would require companies to divulge what kind of data they have on individual consumers, as well as with whom they’re sharing that information. We need this. Not only should California pass this law, but it should be emulated far and wide. And while it’s a good start, The Right To Know Act is really just the beginning of what’s needed.The vast quantity of personal data that companies collect, store and sell is mind-boggling. We caught a glimpse of some of this massive and now-routine data mining during the presidential campaign. Outside of the election cycle, it continues full force as marketers and financial institutions amass private information about consumers, sell it to one another and use it in ways that aren’t entirely clear. Much of it is totally obvious and innocent. Some of it probably isn’t. We don’t know. That’s the problem.The Ongoing Personal Data Explosion Of course, this data is just going to keep exploding. The proliferation of smartphones has generated enough privacy questions to keep lawyers and legislators busy for a generation. We’re just beginning to grapple with those issues and now Google wants us to wear computers on our faces. As we move toward wearable computers, connected cars and smart homes, the sheer volume of data about our personal lives is going to grow exponentially. There’s a lot we stand to gain from these advances in personal technology, just as we have with smartphones and tablets. But before we plough forward into this otherwise awesome future, we should probably take a minute and think about some of the less exciting implications. Privacy is at the top of the list.The Right To Know Act sounds like a sensible attempt to set up the kind of consumer privacy framework we’ll need to have in place if we don’t want things to get too weird in the future.Whether or not we actually regulate the ways companies use this data is another question, which we’ll also need to deal with. In the meantime, what the Right To Know Act will do is simply allow consumers to know exactly what data exists and and to learn a little bit about how it’s being used.“This Law Is About Transparency”“This law is about transparency and access, not new restrictions on data sharing,” writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the supporters of the bill. “It helps consumers, regulators, policymakers, and the world at large shine a light onto the largely hidden, highly lucrative world of the personal data economy.”To Europeans, this concept isn’t anything radical. As Ars Technica points out, the European Union has laws like this on the books already, as it should. The principle of habeas data, as it’s known, is just a part of digital life there. How likely is passage of the bill? Plenty of firms will loathe it, but it will be interesting to see how tolerant the more privacy-friendly tech companies are of the idea. It’s hard to predict the bill’s fate, but when it comes to implementing forward-thinking privacy laws, California has a pretty decent track record.The premise is that simple: Companies know a lot about us, and we, as consumers, have a right to know what they know. Whether or not we can do anything about it, we at least deserve to know. They are, after all, our lives.  Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more