Qantas stumps up $60m to help Jetstar Japan fly higher
Qantas has confirmed that it will inject another $60 million into Jetstar Japan as a weaker yen pushes up the budget airline's fuel bill and its plans to establish a second base are delayed.
Following speculation this week about the need for further funding, Qantas said it and Japan Airlines would inject ¥11 billion ($120 million) between them into Jetstar Japan. It will result in both airlines increasing their stakes from 41.7 to 45.7 per cent. Their voting rights remain unchanged.
The two smaller shareholders - Mitsubishi and Century Tokyo Leasing - will have their stakes in the budget airline drop from 8.3 to 4.3 per cent as they are not participating in the placement.
Qantas said the equity injection would support growth in Jetstar Japan's fleet and infrastructure, helping it to take advantage of the "significant potential" for budget airlines in Japan.
The latest injection takes Qantas' investments in Jetstar offshoots in Asia - including those in Vietnam and Singapore - to about $277 million, according to Macquarie Equities.
The Macquarie analysts said the funding for Jetstar Japan suggested its start-up losses were higher than the original business case for the airline had allowed. They have estimated Jetstar Japan is losing about $50 million a year.
Jetstar was one of three budget airlines that started domestic services in Japan within six months of each other last year.
Jetstar Japan has also been hit with a higher fuel bill due to the yen depreciating against the US dollar. Airlines buy jet fuel in US dollars.
The airline's plans to establish a base at Kansai International Airport near Osaka have also been delayed by months, casting doubt over its plans to expand its network as quickly as it had wanted.
Since it began flying in July last year, Jetstar Japan has become the largest budget airline in Japan, with a fleet of 18 A320s flying to nine domestic destinations.
It intends to boost its fleet to 24 planes and aims to break even within the next two years.