Qantas boosts liquidity with $A1.05 billion loan

March 25, 2020
airlines Australia government
Photo: David Gray /Getty Images for Qantas

The Qantas Group has borrowed $A1.05 billion against seven of its wholly-owned Boeing 787-9s in a bid to ensure it has enough liquidity to get it through the coronavirus outbreak.

The loan — with a tenure of up to 10 years, an interest rate of 2.75 percent and no financial covenants —  increases the group’s available cash balance to $A2.95 billion.

The news was welcomed by the Australian Stock Exchange and boosted the Qantas share price by more than 20 percent to $A3.125 at noon Wednesday Sydney time.

The company also has an additional $A1 billion undrawn facility still available and $A3.5 billion in unencumbered assets that would allow it to boost its cash balance if needed.

READ: Virgin stands down 8000 workers, cuts flying by 90 percent.

The airline group said its net debt of $A5.1 billion remained at the low end of its target range and there were no major debt maturities until June, 2021.

“Over the past few years, we’ve significantly strengthened our balance sheet and we’re now able to draw on that strength under what are exceptional circumstances,’’ chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“Everything we’re doing at the moment is focused on guaranteeing the long-term future of the national carrier, including making sure our people have jobs to return to when we have work for them again.”

Airlines globally have been smashed by coronavirus travel restrictions and an associated slump in demand.

The International Air transport Association has described it as an airline “apocalypse now” and has urged governments to support carriers to ensure they survive the crisis.

The Qantas Group has also moved to reduce its spending by standing down two-thirds of its employees, suspending Qantas and Jetstar international flights as well as significantly cutting domestic operations.

The move will see much of the Flying Kangaroo’s fleet aircraft grounded and more cuts are expected in response to strict travel bans imposed by the state and federal governments.

The Qantas suspensions also mean that neither major Australian carrier will be flying scheduled international services, although the Flying Kangaroo is talking with the federal government about ad hoc flights to maintain key strategic links.

Many international carriers have also now suspended flights to Australia and the federal government has banned nearly all outbound travel.