Qantas buys majority stake in online travel agency

A Qantas A330-300, as shot by Victor Pody.

Qantas has purchased a majority stake in Byron Bay-based online travel agency TripADeal, giving Qantas Frequent Flyers access to new holiday packages using their points.

Secured under the airline’s frequent flyer arm Qantas Loyalty, the deal provides a mechanism for Qantas to acquire the remaining 49 per cent of the company in four years’ time.

The news comes just weeks after Qantas also made a bid to purchase the remaining shares of Alliance Airlines, three years after acquiring a 19.9 per cent stake in the carrier.

Qantas said its latest move will allow Qantas Loyalty to “immediately expand its exposure to the estimated $13 billion online packaged holiday booking market”, as leisure travel demand continues to increase.

“This is a great opportunity at the perfect time. Coming out of the pandemic, people want a holiday experience that is special but also tried and tested, and there is a huge shift to booking online,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

“That’s exactly what TripADeal does. It’s an Aussie success story built on delivering ready-made holidays at very sharp prices, and their level of repeat customers shows how well they do it.

“Partnering with TripADeal means we can make Qantas Points part of the equation, which is great news for our Frequent Flyers and for our loyalty business more broadly. Buying a majority stake at the same time means we can benefit from the strong growth that’s going to follow as a result.”

Frequent flyers will be able to cash in their points on holiday packages booking through TripADeal, regardless of what airline is used in the deal, and can also earn three points for every $1 spent on a package.

Loyalty members can opt to use “points plus pay” options too.

According to the airline, TripADeal has existing relationships with thousands of direct suppliers, including hotels, tour operators and other vendors, as well as its own tour guides based in over 30 countries. The company saw an annual growth of over 40 per cent in the year leading up to the pandemic, with bookings in excess of $200 million.

Qantas expects that by utilising its loyalty program base of 14 million members, it can drive a “significant increase” in TripADeal’s revenue in the coming years.

“The ways to earn points on the ground keep expanding and we know that the number one thing people want to spend those points on is travel,” Joyce added.

“That’s why the opportunities that TripADeal opens up for our Frequent Flyers will be so positive.”

Earlier this month, Australian Aviation reported that Qantas announced its intention to purchase the remaining 80.1 per cent stake of Alliance Aviation, which would see Alliance become a wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas.

Qantas said the move would allow it to “better serve the growing resources sector”.

It came just one month after the ACCC finally cleared Qantas’ stake in the airline, after a three-year investigation into its impact on competition.

Alliance currently holds wet lease agreements with both Qantas and Virgin, for the use of its fleet for regional, charter, and fly-in fly-out operations.

Qantas said its existing agreement with Alliance will continue to operate as normal until any deal is finalised.

Qantas said the remaining 80.1 per cent share of Alliance would be acquired through a scheme of arrangement, where Alliance shareholders receive Qantas shares worth $4.75 for each share held in Alliance.

Alliance’s directors unanimously recommended the scheme, however the final deal will require formal approval from the competition watchdog, as well as Alliance shareholders.

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