The QF+BA circus performs its next act in Sydney this afternoon.

At short notice the media has been invited to ‘observe’ new CEO Alan Joyce make his first major speech in that role to an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon in the Sydney offices of law firm Blake Dawson.

A Qantas spokesperson confirmed that ‘observe’ meant no questions from the media, and no seats at the tables, and possibly standing room only.

Joyce, just back from his negotiations in Hong Kong to sell Qantas into a ‘merger of equals’ with British Airways with its CEO Willie Walsh has lots of questions to answer.

Perhaps starting with when is he going to repair the damage done to the reputation, reliability, and safety standards of Qantas during the watch of his predecessor Geoff Dixon.

Or perhaps paying attention to the very straightforward comments coming from Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, as to the inviolability of the key demands that Qantas be on top of any corporate structure it wants to negotiate with other parties.

What part of ‘No’ doesn’t Joyce understand?

This morning the Sydney Morning Herald refers to a complex arrangement in which ultimate control of separate QF and BA entities resides in an umbrella dual listed company with one CEO.

No Australian government is going to agree to a structure in which a British, or possibly Spanish CEO is going to have ultimate say over Qantas.

Spanish carrier Iberia, which BA had been courting, wants to be on top, in every aspect of the deal, including any that involve Qantas.

It isn’t on, with or without Iberia.

Which raises the absurdity of the mantra that mergers make for savings and simplicity. How the liabilities of the failing enterprise Walsh runs can mean savings for Qantas requires detailed explanation. The corporate contraption being discussed by Qantas and British Airways represents everything that Alan Joyce as CEO of Jetstar and the heads of every other successful low cost carrier in the world rejected, which is cumbersome, complex management.

The reported claims of over $700 million of synergies between BA and QF beggars belief. Synergies in airline alliances, even the simpler ones, are impossible to verify because it can never be known what would have happened if market forces prevailed instead of market rigging, and the powerful competitors dealt with the weak the old fashioned way, by crushing them.

David Murray, who is said to be, on exceedingly good authority, the original choice of chairman to replace Margaret Jackson would never have allowed a new CEO to distract himself from the real and urgent problems facing Qantas.

A UMR Research survey published today in The Australian shows the key Qantas asset, its brand, is being wasted. Everything Joyce has done in his first days in the job has made this worse.

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