On February 1, 2019, Qantas released an official statement claiming it has bought a 19.99% stake in Alliance Airlines - an Australian charter airline. With an average price of $2.40 AUD per share, the purchase cost the Australian flag carrier $60 million AUD ($ 43.56 million).

However, Qantas is not planning to stop here and will eventually seek approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for a bigger stake. The ambition here is simple - to become the majority shareholder of Alliance.

For now, however, “Qantas is supportive of the ‘business as usual’ approach of Alliance Airlines management and is not seeking Board representation”. But it appears, that Qantas not only refrains from representation, but actually prefers to remain invisible to the board of its newest purchase. At least that’s what the charter airline claims.

Alliance Airlines never heard of it?

In response to the news by Qantas, the charter airline released its own account of the situation. Instead of the usual for similar occasions appraisal of the new shareholder and pompastic future plans, Alliance appears surprised by the claim, to which it refers to as “Qantas media announcement”.

“The Board has not received any approach from Qantas at the time of this media Announcement,” the statement reads. It also adds that “Alliance will release its half year results to the market next week. Alliance is being advised by Catapult Partners as financial adviser and Herbert Smith Freehills as legal adviser”.

So why would Qantas invest into Alliance anyway? Well, according to Qantas’ statement, “Alliance Airlines is a significant service provider to the resources sector [...]”. Australia’s national carrier also finds the company profitable, well-managed and having “high levels of operational maturity”. Qantas would know, keeping in mind that Alliance is already its long-term provider and flies regional services on behalf of it.

However, Qantas is not the only happy customer of Alliance. It is already flying from Brisbane to east coast of Australia, sold as codeshare service to Virgin Australia since July 2017. This month the two are expanding their cooperation. Starting February 25, Alliance is to start flying Virgin Atlantic’s Brisbane-Port Moresby route under a wet-lease agreement, according to Australian Aviation.