EXCLUSIVE: Qantas to buy leading trucking company Jets

By: Jason Whittaker

Qantas is close to finalising a deal to buy out leading national road freight carrier Jets Transport Express

By Jason Whittaker | March 27, 2008

Qantas is close to finalising a deal to buy out leading national road freight carrier Jets Transport Express.

ATN has learned the contract of sale has been drafted and negotiations now centre on a price for the company, which specialises in freight cartage between airports, including aircraft equipment such as engines, or directly to consignees.

The deal is expected to be settled on April 30 with Qantas Chief Executive Geoff Dixon due to make an announcement next week on the acquisition.

Jets Transport Express Managing Director Mark Brundell declined to comment on whether a deal has been done.

"I can’t confirm it but I won’t deny it," he tells ATN, citing privacy concerns.

Calls made to the General Manager of Qantas Freight, Grant Fenn, were not returned.

Jets Transport Express is based in Melbourne and operates out of depots in Tullamarine, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney. Its trucks, which operate on a 24-hour basis, are decked out with custom loading and unloading equipment, refrigerated units and airbag suspension.

The company services a number of big-name airlines such as British Airways, United Airlines, Emirates and Korean Airlines. Qantas is currently a customer as well.

It is not clear how the freight carrier’s client base will be affected if the takeover goes ahead. Qantas may elect to use the operator as its exclusive carrier.

There has been market speculation on the sale for some time, but Fenn has repeatedly doused claims about the airline’s intentions.

"As we have said before, we are looking at a range of opportunities to expand our freight interests, but we have no specific announcements to make at this stage," he said earlier this month.

Speculation has also swirled in the past around possible partnerships with Linfox and Queensland Rail.

Qantas has already announced it will spin off its freight division into a separate entity.

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