I write to provide you with a brief but important update on our business.
Today, we announced that we had secured about $900million in additional funding (through a capital raising and new debt facilities) to help ensure the company is well capitalised in the context of prevailing market uncertainties and strongly positioned to serve you in the future.
We also shared further details on our other plans to overcome the challenges posed by the coronavirus and the unprecedented travel and trading restrictions that have been implemented to slow its spread.
As you will know, these restrictions are widespread globally and now typically include full bans on international travel, domestic border closures and the forced closures of shops that are not providing “essential” services. Together, they mean our people are currently unable to perform the overwhelming majority of the tasks that they normally perform.
At the beginning of last week, we asked the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) to temporarily suspend trading in our shares while we evaluated the impacts on our people, company, business and industry and while we finalised our response to a situation that seemed unimaginable just a month or two ago. Today, we released comprehensive details of our plans and our share trading suspension will be lifted (tomorrow).
We announced some of our new initiatives a week or two ago, including the incredibly difficult decision to do what many other companies have already done by standing down some of our people.
We are determined to ensure this is a temporary measure and it will be reviewed weekly.
People are the heart and soul of our company and those who are stepping down remain a very important part of our business and of our future – we will welcome them back with open arms when restrictions are lifted and as demand starts to improve.
Pleasingly, governments globally are taking steps to help people who are affected.
Our people will be eligible for the Federal Government’s proposed new Jobkeeper subsidy and we are also working hard to find alternative income sources for them while they are stood-down. Thanks to the support we have received from a fantastic group of companies and bodies, I am pleased to report that there are more than 10,000 short-term sales and call centre roles available now throughout Australia to our people – including 1000 within our global headquarters in Brisbane.
Many customers are also taking the time to contact us to offer temporary employment to our people, which is very heartening and a huge compliment,
During the past few weeks, our priorities have been to help our customers rearrange their future plans and to help repatriate travellers who have been stranded overseas. Behind the scenes, we have also been liaising with all stakeholders and working to preserve as many jobs as possible – so our fantastic people can continue to look after you well into the future.
In making any changes, we are committed to ensuring that we do not adversely impact our corporate and leisure customers. We remain committed to looking after you – both during this difficult period and beyond – and will continue to be available to you through our corporate travel offices, our leisure shops (where permitted), our websites, via social media and through our mobile capabilities during this time of social distancing.
As mentioned previously, today we have secured additional funding to help the company overcome any prolonged down-turn in demand. Fortunately, we had a very strong balance sheet when this crisis arose, but even we would have been challenged if revenue continued to decrease significantly and we had not taken steps now to access funds that could have been crucial later in the year.
With this funding in place, you can be confident that we will overcome the challenge that coronavirus poses and will retain our historic strengths, our culture, our growth focus, our commitment to innovation and, importantly, our team of people who will be there to support you as borders reopen and as airline capacity returns.
Our customers have always been at the centre of our business. Today’s announcement is an important step forward at this challenging time and I trust it provides you and all of our wonderful customers with confidence and peace of mind for the future.
Thank-you once again for your support and for your patience.
Please stay safe.
Graham “Skroo” Turner