Strategic Management – Group report: Qantas case study analysis

 

 

Contents

 

1     Executive Summary…………………………………………………………………. 3

2     Introduction…………………………………………………………………………….. 6

3     Strategic Management and Strategic Competitiveness…………………. 8

4     Business-level strategy……………………………………………………………. 10

4.1     Current……………………………………………………………………………. 10

4.1.1     Qantas and Porter’s Five Forces…………………………………… 11

4.1.2     Current Geographical External Environment…………………. 14

4.2     Recommendations……………………………………………………………. 15

4.2.1     Recommended Geographical External Environment………. 15

5     Corporate-level Strategy – Diversification………………………………… 17

5.1     Current……………………………………………………………………………. 17

5.2     Recommendations……………………………………………………………. 20

6     Corporate-level Strategy – Mergers and Acquisitions…………………. 23

6.1     Current……………………………………………………………………………. 23

6.2     Recommendations……………………………………………………………. 25

7     Corporate-level Strategy – International…………………………………… 27

7.1     Current……………………………………………………………………………. 27

7.2     Recommendations……………………………………………………………. 29

8     Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………….. 32

 

1        Executive Summary

This report examines Qantas’ strategic management and how these strategies increase Qantas’ ability to sustain competitive advantage and achieve above average returns. The Qantas group strategy is to deliver sustainable returns to shareholders with safety always being their first priority (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015c).

At a competitive strategy and business level Qantas’ unique position as Australia’s largest and longest established airline has not been sufficient alone to sustain competitive advantage. With the pressures of the post Global Financial Crisis economy and increasing new entrant competition in its external environment Qantas has had to establish new competitive strategies including development of a cost lead airline JetStar alongside its value oriented premium service in Qantas. In addition the internal resource based environment as focused on rationalising core competences and developing an approach that resists the competitive forces of the market (Porter 1979) fending off the rivalry of existing competitors through price wars, reducing costs by engaging suppliers, building their loyalty program strength to combat threat of new entrants and develop clear differentiation that is difficult to imitate to ward off product substitutes. Business level recommendations include further stabilisation of relations with unions to contain personnel costs along with a focus on the continued distinction between its cost lead strategy and the value differentiation of premium services.

Corporate strategy has seen Qantas focus on the development of its 5 segment diversification with further development of secondary subsidiaries to smooth revenue and profit generation and limit risks and dependencies on any single business unit. This has been effective stable growth in profits generated by the Loyalty and Freight segments have successfully supported Qantas through recent challenging industry and economic conditions restoring returns to stakeholders. Corporate strategy recommendations include capacity and resource distribution to maximise profitability in the five business segments, evolution and alignment with corporate vision and core brand values to ensure realisation of strategic synergies and consideration of the vertical integration of a travel insurance business line leveraging Qantas’ 10.8 million market reach and travel buying cycle relationship with its customers. Caution is recommended in over diversification of areas such as Loyalty where Qantas may be at risk of crating unnecessary risk and complexity expanding outside its core competences.

As with most companies, Qantas has had limited success in its mergers and acquisitions, with the majority in the last ten years not achieving above average returns and creating greater stakeholder value. This includes expansions in their freight interests, extended travel booking services and even more diverse analytical consulting services in the Red Planet business. Failures can generally be attributed to poor due diligence, a lack of realisation of synergies and limited integration success. With the limited success Qantas must consider several divestments in order to return to core value creation for its stakeholders. There are growth opportunities in leveraging resources for the vertical expansion of air based freight services through acquisition along with international opportunities to grow through acquisition into developing regions such as Asia.

Qantas’ international strategy is supporting growth into new markets, in particular reducing barriers to entry in Asia in the form of foreign ownership limitations by leveraging partnership and alliances. These entities, while minority owned, form the basis of a home office lead global strategy building growth in the rapidly expanding Asian middle class market. To ensure this regionalisation is successful Qantas should consider a transitional strategy to increase local responsiveness and address the cultural and political complexities that will increase rapidly as they increase scale and market power in these regions.

2        Introduction

Qantas Airways Ltd is the third oldest airline in the world and was established in 1920. The Qantas group has grown to comprise five major segments generating over $15.8 billion in revenue that include Qantas Domestic, Qantas International, Jetstar Group Qantas Loyalty and Qantas Freight. Their group strategy is to deliver sustainable returns to shareholders with safety always being their first priority (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015c). The airline has had to adapt too many changes in the external environment following the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008. These changes have had a very drastic impact on the company’s internal operational environment as will be explained. To address these changes Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, focused the airline on core business competences to help them sustain their competitive advantage and restore returns to profitable levels.

Under the burden of large capital commitments having ordered 115 new aircraft in 2005 (Hanson 2010), Qantas rationalised many of its resources and capabilities outsourcing 7000 jobs overseas in an effort to reduce costs and offshoring engineering and maintenance work to third parties that have an excellent safety record that limited the risk of damaging Qantas’ reputation as the safest airline in the world. The rationalisation of operations and focus on core competences restored profitability as the broader industry began to recover and Qantas now operate profitably across the group after several years of losses in their three airline segments.

This report examines Qantas competitive, business-level, corporate-level and international strategies to establishing the theoretical strategic management foundations to Qantas current situation. The report provides recommendations based on Qantas current context identifying appropriate strategic management principles that can be applied to sustain competitive advantage and achieve above average returns.

 


3        Strategic Management and Strategic Competitiveness

The essence of strategic management is to establish a unique market position that addresses the five forces of competition (Porter, 1980) minimising threats and capitalising on opportunities. To do so companies need to scan the external environment and identifying signals to changes in the environment, monitor identified trends and generate projections. The application of the I/O model pursues above average returns through targeting an attractive industry and implementing a strategy that is determined by that industry.

In turn the company’s internal environment must be aligned to address external opportunities and threats. Applying a resource based model internal analysis examines what is valuable, rare, costly to imitate and non-substitutable (VRIN) (Barney, 1991) to make strategic decisions in respect to its resources, capabilities and focus on core competences in an effort to create sustainable competitive advantage. The company can then assess its value chain (Porter, 1985) and make decisions on what competences create the greatest value for its customers and its ultimately stakeholders.  As resource can often be imitated or substituted over time however it is difficult to sustain competitive advantage based on resources alone thus the importance of strategy to address the external environment. This leads to decisions on mergers and acquisitions then need be made to take advantage of economies of scale and earn above average returns on its products and services. International strategies also can help the company like Qantas take advantage of locations nearer to high demand and high growth markets (Hitt, et al., 2015).

Qantas unique position in the market has not been adequate to sustain competitive advantage alone. Its well establish and valuable position in the market has attracted competitors who have sort to imitate and provide substitute products, that seek to emulate Qantas products and services and also undercut them through cost lead strategies. Following the Global Financial Crisis where Low Cost Carriers (LCC) addressed changes in the external environment of customer price sensitivity and Qantas was forced to respond through establishment of it’s JetStar Group creating its own LCC imitation. Qantas do have substantial resources that address the four VRIN criteria, the most significant of which is their intangible brand asset and associated loyalty being Australia’s long-standing national carrier. Qantas focus attention on core competence surrounding this resource and leverage its capacity to sustain competitive advantage.


4        Business-level strategy

Qantas must understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as its resources and capabilities from its internal conditions where competitive advantage can be achieved (Nandakumar et al 2010). The below reviews Qantas’ ability and success at deploying its resources to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage over their competitors and earn above-average returns by integrating and coordinating a set of commitments and actions.

4.1       Current

Firms have to develop their business level strategy based on how they will deploy their resources to compete in a specific industry or market section (Raphael 1986). This helps form the core strategy that the firm chooses to achieve its competitive advantage.  Another important factor in the foundation of a successful business level strategy requires understanding the customer value proposition. To create customer value firms have to satisfy three aspects:

  • What will be the proposition, in terms of product and service about customers’ needs and satisfaction
  • To which customer segment will the product be served
  • How will the firm use its core competencies to satisfy the costumers needs

(Lecocq 2015).

Qantas use the NPS (Net Promoter Score) program to understand whether passengers will advocate for them. The feedback is passed on to frontline employees in order to improve service delivery and is used by the business to inform strategic decisions and to improve travel experiences.

To create competitive advantage, firms can evaluate different business-level strategies that can match with the course of action pursued by the company. The strategies are:

  • Cost leadership: the production of the low per-unit cost from a product.
  • Differentiation: the production of goods or services within an acceptable cost which produce unique products in the industry.
  • Focus strategy: the production of goods and service that is determined to satisfy a specific customer segment.

Competitive advantage growth occurs when firms create value for its products that exceed the firm’s cost to creating it (Porter 1985). Value is what buyers are willing to pay, and superior value stems from offering lower prices than competitors, with equivalent benefits or providing unique benefits that more than offset a higher price. There are two basic types of competitive advantage: cost leadership and differentiation.

Qantas has achieved competitive advantage using the integrated cost leadership/ differentiation strategy. This is evident due to Qantas’ longevity and unique position (in global terms) in being able to cover a diverse (business and leisure) national market with a diversity of products and services that reflect different services levels. This strategy is driven by its route segmentation, where Qantas differentiate the service provided by the type of traffic to reduce operational cost. The results are the business outcomes of increasing revenue and (return to) profit, route growth and continued, sustained cost reduction (Whyte and Lohmann 2015).

4.1.1      Qantas and Porter’s Five Forces

Qantas addressed each of Porter’s Five Forces (Porter, 1979) it faced to achieve its dominant market position and deliver upon its business level strategy.

Rivalry within Existing Competitors

The high volume of competitors in the aviation industry produces a fierce competition between them, in which the rivalry is strong due to the crowded marketplace. Rivalry is manifested through price wars, regular and long discount cycles, regularly adding new products, large marketing campaigns and service improvement. Qantas has achieved a competitive advantage against competitors as they have developed and maintained a larger diverse market with a diverse range of unique products.

Bargaining Power of Buyers

Most buyers tend to be price sensitive and will shop around for better prices or better value (Porter 2008).  The primary buyers in the aviation industry are middle class individuals or business professionals.  They command significant buyer power because they are able to move freely between airlines.   Buyers can easily hold a number of frequent flyer loyalty accounts, so this is no longer as effective in keeping buyers loyal to the product or service.  Because of this, Qantas has its two major brands; Qantas (for product differentiation) and Jetstar (for best value). Qantas’ strategy has to be mindful as to not cannibalise its own market, leading to customer confusion and a loss in revenue opportunity in customers choosing to fly with the wrong brand.

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Qantas is a highly recognized brand around the world which makes it a trusted company in the eyes of the suppliers. During the last year, Qantas worked with many of its suppliers to reduce operational cost and preserve their current margins. As many suppliers are dependant on Qantas, most begrudgingly complied.  Where supplies hold key strategic assets (eg. jet fuel, airliner construction), airlines have little bargaining power over prices, however, the industry can negotiate contractual outcomes over a number of years.  Most other airline industry suppliers are not critical and operate in a competitive environment where the industry players can switch suppliers with little effort and recourse. Unlike other competitors, Qantas relies heavily on unionised labour to run its operations.  Unions have significant influence and power over Qantas as key resource suppliers.

Potential New Entrants

The barriers to entry in the aviation industry are high due to the need for large capital outlays to enter and compete in the market. There are many airlines in the market (ranging from large national carriers to small regional carriers), the industry operates on fairly low margins (due to constant price competition and price reporting), and experiences volatility with jet fuel. This makes the industry quite unattractive for new entrants to successfully enter and compete against existing operators. Furthermore, Qantas has developed a highly successful loyalty program, through brand development, which helps them preserve their customer base and complicates the task of new entrants even further.

Product Substitutes

Train and road travel are the main substitutes locally, however, with heavily reduced prices (where a domestic air ticket can cost less than the taxi ride to the airport), the airline industry will be able to demonstrate significant value (time saving, convenience, comfort) over road or rail based travel.  Qantas’ integrated cost leadership/differentiation strategy helps to reduce the possibility of customers switching to substitutes.

4.1.2      Current Geographical External Environment

Qantas needs to develop core competence in integrating horizontal acquisitions and building a business outside of Australia.  External market trends show growth in Asia and Africa and Qantas needs to be closer to those markets in order to offer new customers its safety record core competence.

Air New Zealand and Qantas, have several times claimed that Emirates is dumping capacity in the trans-Tasman market, seeking only to cover its marginal costs and in the process driving down fares to levels unprofitable for competitors (Mullins 2014). Another problem in aeronautical relations with Australia involves the imbalance in benefits from the air service agreement, with the benefits heavily slanted in Emirate’s favour (Mullins 2014).  Qantas has complained that the operations of sixth freedom carriers – SIA as well as Emirates – have been responsible for a sharp fall in its market share of international traffic to / from Australia. Emirates is seeking to double flights into Australia in the future which will threaten Qantas’ geographical advantage.  The UAE maintains an open skies policy and so it could offer Qantas the opportunity to set up a hub in Dubai (Mullins 2014). But this might well be something of an empty gesture given that Qantas would still need fifth freedom rights to operate beyond Dubai. As a third / fourth freedom carrier Qantas also complains that Emirates simply diverts traffic, but more than 80 per cent of the passengers Emirates currently carries in and out of Australia are flying to / from cities not served by Qantas, for example Paris, Zurich, and Vienna ( Airline Business 2006). But because a third / fourth freedom carrier cannot match the sixth freedom carrier’s economies of route traffic density, it is bound to be at a competitive disadvantage, due to the geographical accident of its home country’s location (Mullins, 2014).

The argument of location and Emirates dumping capacity is a serious concern especially, even with the hub location and the brand image of Qantas safety record.

 

4.2       Recommendations

The analysis has identified the bargaining power of suppliers as a primary threat.  Qantas’ main operational workforce is unionized; the job cuts to outsourcing and the continuous reductions of jobs has frightened the unions. This resulted in a significant strike in 2009, with more than 300 cancelled flights and the loss of brand reputation.

The recommendation is to create a much closer relation with the unions in order to reduce the possibility and impact of future strikes that can affect the profit and reputation of the company. The establishment of enterprise agreements that contain rising personnel costs are critical to maintaining profitability and competitiveness for the airline.

Qantas also need to continuously monitor and respond to potential market cannibalization. Passengers can easily take advantage of lower fares by using Jetstar with potential brand loss to Qantas (Whyte and Lohmann 2015). Qantas has experienced the reduction in sales of its flagship product as the result of the introduction of Jetstar as a low-cost alternative. This strategy affects sales volume and market share which could result in the erosion of value differentiation in their premium service Qantas products.

4.2.1      Recommended Geographical External Environment

The recommendation is to perform a study on the feasibility of setting a horizontal integration into airline operations in Dubai taking advantage of the access to new customers and marketing the core competence of perfect safety record that cannot be easily copied. According to Handley (2012), “Mounting anecdotal evidence suggests that there are sizable resource (human and physical) related implications associated with many outsourcing initiatives. Surprisingly, relatively little empirical research has been conducted which addresses the capability issues that accompany the disposal of organizational resources by outsourcing firms”.

Virtually all preferential trade agreements (PTAs) are between geographically contiguous countries. Those that are not tend to be based on former imperial relationships, which have been diminishing in importance. Given the relationship between proximity and PTAs, there is little distinction between preferential trade and ‘regionalism’ (Ludema, 2002). This is a double edged sword for Qantas. It means that it will be very difficult for the airline to setup a trade agreement or merger with a powerful geographically positioned operator, but if one can be setup then that will open up new opportunities for strong relationships from their new and now preferential location in a location like Dubai.


5        Corporate-level Strategy – Diversification

The value of corporate strategy is largely determined by the degree to which the businesses under the company’s management are of greater value than if they were managed by a competitor or independently (Campbell et al 1995). Thus an effective corporate strategy generates aggregate returns across the portfolio than they would be without (Kenny, 2011), contributing to the companies competitive advantage and ability to generate above average returns (Porter, 1980).

5.1       Current

In FY 2015 the Qantas Group generated $15,816 billion in total revenue (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015a). This was generated across 5 main segments or business units as highlighted in figure 1.1. Qantas operate with low levels of diversification in a dominant business strategy (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2015) with 84% of revenue generated through its passenger airline business focusing on a core set of capabilities and competences to generate above average returns (Porter, 1987) in a single industry market.

Interestingly from a segment profit contribution perspective there is less dominance of the passenger airline business with Qantas Freight and Loyalty generating 35% of the company’s EBIT tipping their strategy into more moderate diversification with its related business units sharing product, technology and distribution linkages (Hitt et al., 2015).

Segment Revenue % of total EBIT % of total
Domestic  5,828 37%  480 39%
International  5,467 35%  267 22%
Qantas Freight  1,067 7%  114 9%
Jetstar Group  3,464 22%  230 19%
Qantas Loyalty  1,369 9%  315 26%

Figure 1.1 FY15 segment contribution $ millions (Qantas Airways Ltd 2015a)

 

Analysing the segments reveals that revenue contributions (figure 1.2) have remained relatively stable over time, however profit levels (figure 1.3) of the passenger airlines are far more volatile. The profit from freight and loyalty show stable levels of increasing return providing support for the other segments (Matusik & Fitza, 2012) when they are challenged by internal and external influences creating sustained value and returns for the Qantas Group.

Figure 1.2 Annual revenues by segment (Qantas Airways Ltd 2015a)

Figure 1.3 Annual EBIT by segment (Qantas Airways Ltd 2015a)

 

In addition to the economies of scope and value created through Qantas’ diversified segments, they also achieve market power against price competition. Through successfully establishing services in both premium service and Low Cost Carrier (LCC) airlines they have mitigated risks of revenue loss, a value neutral benefit, and blocked competition through price competitiveness. Achieving this airline within airline strategy is a rare occurrence with only a limited number of successful cases globally, with the main success factors being customer segment alignment, clear differentiation, vertical integration and realised back end synergies (Gillen & Gados, 2008).

From a resources perspective, Qantas also derive value-neutral benefits through both their tangible and intangible resources. As an example in anticipating the effect of the low Australian dollar increasing international passenger travel, Qantas are redeploying aircraft from reductions in their domestic demand (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015c) ensuring continued high returns on capital invested (Kaul, 2012). Qantas is also leveraging it’s strong, established brand credibility across many of its diversified businesses. One key example is the attraction of its Loyalty products to external companies not only for the audience reach but also for the reputational association with Qantas.

Qantas also operates several other diversified business lines including – Q Catering, QantasLink, Engineering and its in-flight magazine.

5.2       Recommendations

Qantas should continue to strengthen the advantages gained through their existing diversification strategy of the five major business segments. Multiple revenue and profit sources, especially from Loyalty and Freight, will continue to smooth the variable returns from the passenger airline segments addressing uncertainty in the external environment (Matusik & Fitza, 2012) of the aviation industry. Continued aircraft and operational capacity allocation across the airline segments will maximise the Qantas groups’ economies of scope and create value due to the synergies between these segments (Campbell et al., 1995).

As the Qantas Group grows it is critical that each business segment remains strongly aligned with the corporate vision and core brand values continuing to develop stakeholder value and strong return on investment for the entire group, not just profit for the segment (Kenny, 2011). Synergies must continue to be assessed and developed as each segment evolves to maximise value creation.

Opportunities have also been identified for further diversification into a vertically integrated travel insurance business. At present Qantas provide travel insurance options through third party insurers via their online booking service with Qantas receiving a small referral margin. Analysis should be undertaken into the viability of leveraging the Qantas brand and unique customer touch point in the travel buying cycle and its 10.8 million member reach to upsell its own Qantas Travel Insurance at full margin. The new products could be underwritten and supported by an experienced insurance partner to limit the risks of establishing an actual insurance business that is outside of Qantas core competences (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990) focusing on retail only. Careful consideration should be given to the negative effectives of over diversification in order not to divert attention from organic growth focus on existing segments (Kenny, 2011). However a moderately unrelated level of diversification often outperform highly related business units which is why travel insurance has been identified as a strategic fit with the appropriate due diligence.

Qantas Loyalty segment with its high profitability, stable revenue growth and 10.8 million customer reach should be developed thoughtfully. There are a growing number of subsidiary operations within the Loyalty segment adding an expanding secondary level of diversification that could lead to over-diversification and investment in highly unrelated businesses (Palich, Carini, & Seaman, 2000). One of the Loyalty subsidiaries that requires further examination is the Red Planet consumer analytics and consultancy business incorporating the acquisition of Taylor Fry. While immediate synergies can be identified in the monetisation of the loyalty database and consumer transaction history, the choice of taking this to market via an internal consulting agency is questionable. There is limited overlap in the resources, technical knowledge and operational capabilities (Campbell et al., 1995) of Red Planet and Qantas nor is their apparent value created by Qantas that produces greater returns than Taylor Fry had as an independent entity. A more appropriate model to consider would be to license the Qantas data asset to experienced third party consulting firms, increasing the scale of return through recurrent licensing income and enabling diverse value creation without the increased overheads and capability development.


6        Corporate-level Strategy – Mergers and Acquisitions

Companies pursue mergers and acquisitions for a range of regions to increase the stakeholder value of the acquiring company. Reasons include growth, market expansion, eliminate competitive threats, operational synergies, or to diversify (Gaughan, 2010). However while the apparent benefits are obvious more acquisitions have reduced shareholder value than created it through lack of effective corporate strategy (Porter, 1987). A Price Waterhouse Coopers survey (2014) found that only 65% of acquisitions achieve their strategic goals and 49% achieve their financial goals with success through to an operational level only being achieved through “sustained commitment to integration (2014, p. 6).”

6.1       Current

Qantas has incorporated mergers and acquisitions into its corporate strategy over the last twenty years that have seen it increase market power, diversification, vertical expansion, restructured its competitive scope and expand capabilities.

In 2008 Qantas embarked on a merger with JetSet Travelworld Limited to pursue vertical expansion in the travel services market. Qantas anticpated growth of $3 billion a year in revenue and $800 million in profit through the integration of Jetset’s capabilities with the Qantas Holidays business unit (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2008). The Jetset venture has failed to achieve these returns after numerous ownership restructures and further mergers to incorporate greater market power and reach, which saw Qantas controlling share reduce from 58 to 28 percent. The travel services group, now called Helloworld, continues to produce profit losses with declining revenue, having failed to capitalise on the benefits of vertical integration with Qantas and create additional value.

Qantas entered into a joint venture with Australia Post in 2003 acquiring Star Track and Australian air Express (Supply Chain Digital, 2012). It is an interesting example of the establishment of core competence in corporate strategy as the initial structure failed to create sufficient value for either stakeholder. In 2012, under the pressure of $25 million in group losses, Qantas sold its 50% share in Star Track to Australia Post and purchased 100% of Australian air Express. This focused Australia Post on their core capabilities in parcel delivery and in turn Qantas on air freight.

Red Planet was created in early 2014 as a subsidiary business to Qantas Loyalty analytical consulting services (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015c). The aim of the new business unit is to leverage Qantas frequent flyer and transaction data, empowering consumer insight with a view to becoming a leading digital media, analytics and research service business. To increase capability and experience in this field, Qantas acquired Taylor Fry in February 2015 a company that generated revenue of $12 million in FY14 with its origins in insurance actuarial data analysis. The underlying logic of the acquisition and diversification is in leveraging Qantas’ 27 years of experience in analysing its loyalty data for internal purposes, with the CEO Martin Fry highlighting strong synergies between Qantas Loyalty and Taylor Fry (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015b).

Ultimately these mergers and acquisitions have created very limited value for Qantas to date consuming capital investment and distracting strategic focus.

 

6.2       Recommendations

Qantas are faced with the challenging decision of several divestments with possible loss write-downs due to returns not exceeding capital invested. However due to a lack of understanding of the industries it was getting into, poor due diligence and failure to realise the identified synergies through effective integration (Kenny, 2011) these acquisitions have failed to create competitive advantage and generate above average returns (Porter, 1987) within the Qantas Group.

Based on the continued lack of returns after several restructures and waning investor confidence Qantas should divest 100% of its stake in Helloworld/Jetset unless it can establish a way to align the vertical synergies of the two businesses.

The Red Planet diversification and Taylor Fry acquisition should be reviewed with a critical eye. There are serious questions here on the over diversification of the strategy, the highly unrelated nature of the line of business and the legitimate overlap in complementary capabilities. The capabilities of a professional consulting firm are vastly different in structure, resource and competences and it is difficult to establish how this can be adequately overcome to provide material value creation.

In the freight business segment, Qantas should look to strengthen synergies in aircraft resources and logistics while pursuing further growth and market power through horizontal acquisition of compatible airline freight businesses. The economies of scope and costs efficiencies in further acquisitions are likely to see profitability grow substantially along with growing revenue streams. Potential acquisition targets could include international targets to take advantage of aircraft capacity distribution overseas. Thorough assessment of acquisition targets should be undertaken identifying quantifiable synergies (Jeffery S. Perry & Thomas J. Herd, 2004).

Finally the JetStar Group should consider a merger or acquisition to support its international strategy of expansion into the Asian regional airline markets (Frazer, 2015). Difficulties in competitive barriers to entry including government regulation, airport slots and speed of expansion could all potentially be addressed through an appropriate M&A strategy. Expansion into the Asian market is also likely to mitigate some of the fluctuations in its dominant passenger airline income stream with varying regional cycles and fluctuations in international markets offsetting local cycles.


7        Corporate-level Strategy – International

Continuing with the analysis report in the case of Qantas in the global airline industry. Now we are going to focus on the corporate level international strategy used by the company to venture the sale of goods and service out of the domestic market. We are going to understand the benefits that drive Qantas to decides to establish an operation out of their border areas, and the trend and risk that Qantas evaluated to choose the correct corporate-level strategy.

7.1       Current

Qantas started its expansion into the Asia market after a liberalisation move that gave to the company the opportunity to create a partnership between different investors. Establishing a majority shareholding in Jetstar Asia with base in Singapore, and gain competition in a market with many start-up airlines (Whyte, R, Lohmann, G, 2015, p143).

The benefits of expanding into the Asian market driven by the entry of market conditions where the demographic and market characteristics of the region have created competitive opportunities. The Asian regional market represents a substantial population size with demographic of a large middle-class, increasing leisure activities and the absence of competitive transportation helps the continuous growth of the industry (Lawton, T, 2005).  At the same time, the market conditions in Asia are creating opportunity with the liberalisation of the bilateral services agreement improving the competitive conditions between airlines (Fu, X., Oum, T.H. & Zhang, A. 2010 encouraging airlines to compete and create operational efficiencies at the same time.

This makes entry into the Asian market highly attractive for Qantas creating the opportunity for increased market share, revenue growth, and higher return profit margins due to increased economy of scale and lower salary costs in the Asian region.

Qantas operates a global strategy where the home office takes decisions to allocate domestic products in the international market. Reflecting a price lead competitive strategy to develop rapid growth in the region, Jetstar’s CFO stated that the product approach was as simple as “destination, price and offer to stimulate demand (Whyte, R, Lohmann, G, 2015, p 145).” To establish market entry into Asia Qantas has leveraged its alliance partnerships, but should also examine opportunities for acquisitions or mergers to increase above average returns.

The Alliance entry mode is a strategy where two or more companies work together to deliver the same product. Peter Drucker (1996) stated “The greatest change in corporate culture, and the way business is being conducted, may be the accelerating growth of relationships based not on ownership, but on partnership”  (Elmuti, D. & Kathawala, Y. 2001, p 205). Qantas international business created an important alliance with Emirate Airline to provide a major numbers of destinations in Europe, moving its hub to Dubai. This alliance will provide reciprocal service to many destinations, creating a benefits-sharing model. Qantas also has many other alliances where they codeshare seats. This strategy allows Qantas to enter many different markets with a limited invested capital (Dean Elmuti Yunus Kathawala, 2001).

Qantas have developed international partnership with companies in Asia to overcome foreign ownership limitations which create barriers of entry for Qnatas just as Qantas is protected in Australia from majority foreign ownership. Partnerships include – Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Century and Tokyo Leasing Corp, where Qantas owns the 33% of Jetstar Japan, JetStar Asia where Qantas owns 49% with Westbrook Investment who own 51% and 30% share in Jetstar Vietnam with Pacific Airlines who own the 70% (Whyte, R, Lohmann, G, 2015, 144).

Qantas have also expanded focus on international long-haul development acquiring up to 110 AirBus A320 aircraft to support growth over the next 10 to 15 years (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2011a). This strategy seeks to capitalise on the opportunity created through a growing international market and attraction to travel to Australia due to the favourable foreign exchange rates. Qantas are further supporting this expansion through increased partnership commitments with its One World Alliance having invested $400 million in upgrading its international lounges for use by both Qantas and One World members (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2011b).

7.2       Recommendations

This international strategy and expansion into Asia supports the diversification strategy from Qantas. The expansion of the Jetstar into the Asian market brings a unique and differentiated product to the local market based on technology, marketing, or specialised management focused specifically on this new market (Montgomery, C & Singh, H 1984). The establishment of market power through aggressive growth in the region and leverage of existing knowledge assets will create competitive advantage.

Qantas should continue to strengthen its global strategy developing regional business unit strategies from its home office as this has successfully created advantages and growth to date. However Qantas should also consider adopting a transitional strategy as they expand their international strategy to developing countries. The opportunity for regionalisation to target a rapidly growing middle class in regions such as India and China, who have a strong propensity to travel internationally, is likely to require increased local responsiveness to pursue profitable growth in those markets (Lyles, Saxton, & Watson, 2004). Qantas should leverage its strategic strengths to enter these markets leveraging experience and knowledge (Si & Bruton, 1999)in strategic alliances and partnerships which will overcome foreign ownership barriers and limit political and economic risks (Hitt, Ahlstrom, Dacin, Levitas, & Svobodina, 2004). Qantas should also examine opportunities for suitable horizontal acquisitions in target regions along with the establishment of wholly owned subsidiaries where foreign ownership restrictions are not a barrier. In managing this regional expansion Qantas will need to thoughtfully develop its management structures to support successful integration of different cultural and institutional practices and align them constructively with the central vision and direction of the company. Qantas must also consider the scale of their international strategy to avoid negative consequences of over expansion and complexity.

As Qantas expands its long haul international operations, Qantas should implement more fuel efficient aircraft by changing their fleet for the new generation of B787 to create cost efficiencies. The cost of the fuel in the total expenditure amount of the company is equivalent to more than 25% of the total cost for Qantas. The company has reduced in $500 million the cost of fuel during 2015 FY, due to the cost of fuel which has decreased in comparison to 2014 FY (Qantas Airways Ltd, 2015b). Qantas should review its network and schedules to re-assign aircraft according to performance maximization.  Under this consideration, Qantas could reduce the economic risk that it could be generated by the uncertainty of fuel price in the future.

Qantas has to increase their product value in foreign markets where high competitors and recognized airlines operate, to create advantage competitiveness. In the international business, the competitiveness between airlines is high. The number of new entry airlines and star up companies related to the opening of the Asia market created a high volume of airlines that operate in a high competitive market. The high-cost base in routes where the high range of possibilities exists due to the high volume of supply in a high-demand market.


8        Conclusion

Qantas have successfully operated their business in its developing forms for almost 100 years. Driving their continued success will depend on their strategic management ability to sustain competitive advantage and achieve above average returns through competitive business level strategy and corporate strategy including diversification, mergers and acquisitions and international strategy.

Globalisation and the competitive landscape will continue to create competitive and environmental forces, both external and internal that will require Qantas to establish strategies that determine its place and focus in the industry it competes in as well as addressing changing factors in the political, social, economic and technological environment. Resource based strategy is also critical to Qantas business strategy ensuring that they create differentiation and value from the internal environment to generate above average returns. These strategies must in turn be cohesively linked with the overall vision and mission of the company to generate sustainable competitive advantage and ongoing returns for stakeholders.

Qantas relationship with its customers is critical to its business strategy and they must continue to find new ways of satisfying their existing customer needs while anticipating and capturing emerging customer requirements in response to industry, environmental and competitive changes. Qantas must continue to build differentiation between them and their competitors establishing whether it does things differently or does different things to differentiate. Qantas has successfully run a dual business level strategy, a rarity in the airline industry, in developing a cost lead airline business within a value lead differentiation business.

Qantas corporate strategy value is determined by the degree to which the businesses under the company’s management are of greater value than if they were managed by a competitor or independently. The effective establishment of the five diversified business segments has generated aggregate returns across the portfolio that are greater than those they would generate if the businesses were independent. This has contributed to the company’s competitive advantage and ability to generate above average returns. The continued development of business units that leverage synergies across core competences of the Qantas group will ensure continued profitability and value creation. Qantas must be careful however of over diversification given their low to moderate level strategy. Expansion into businesses that our outside its capabilities should be avoided, combining instead a strategic partnerships to integrate third party skill sets complements a range of vertical and horizontal mergers and acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions to be targeted should provide Qantas with advantages that include increased market power, reducing entry barriers, cost of development, competitive scope and development of new capabilities that complement existing.

Internationally Qantas have identified significant opportunities for horizontal, regionalised expansion into new geographic markets. Qantas must consider revision of their globalised strategy into a transitional strategy that addresses local responsiveness and efficiency. Given the barriers to entry in foreign ownership in many of these countries it is important Qantas establish deliberate strategies such as partnership alliances to overcome these limitations to growth. Qantas must also provide the appropriate management focus and specialisation to this international expansion ensuring that cultural and regional complexities are managed effectively.

The cohesive linkage of all of these strategic elements is critical to the success of Qantas strategic management approach. Ensuring they apply competent leadership to integrate the strategies with operations with the overall strategic mission and vision will ensure sustained competitive advantage and achievement of above average returns for stakeholders.

 

 

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