The Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) share price recovery just got a little trickier even as it takes the dubious honour of being a rare capital raising loser.
It appears that Regional Express Holdings Ltd’s (ASX: REX) ambition to be a thorn in the side of Qantas took a big step forward.
I’ll explain why this is something Qantas shareholders will want to keep a close eye on later.
Placement under water
While around 75% of S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index:^AXJO) companies that raised emergency funds during the COVID-19 crisis are trading well ahead of their placement price, the same can’t be said for Qantas.
Near monopolistic power eroded
But the cap raise is water under the bridge. The challenge that investors weren’t counting on facing as we flew into the COVID-19 pandemic was increasing competition.
In fact, Qantas supporters rejoiced when archrival Virgin became an early casualty of coronavirus and plunged into administration.
This should leave the Flying Kangaroo with near monopolistic power, even if the wounded Virgin were to be revived. As it turns out, Virgin is rising from the ashes, albeit as a shadow of its former self.
One competitor becomes two
But Qantas now has to fend off a new challenger in Rex, which is going after some of Qantas’ most profitable domestic routes.
Rex only used to fly to regional towns in small propeller aircraft. The COVID-19 crisis presented it with an opportunity to expand its business as the heavily restructured Virgin looked to sell its passenger jets.
The new fleet will allow Rex to offer flights connecting Australia’s major cities, including the highly profitable Melbourne-Sydney connection.
I suspect Rex may prove to be a formidable competitor to Qantas too given Rex’s track record in running a tight ship through good cost control.
Capital raising on the cards?
The other key question is whether Rex may also contemplate plying short-haul international routes that the Boeing 737s are well suited for.
There’s no word on how Rex plans to fund the aircraft purchase, although it’s reported that the small cap is looking at striking an aircraft leasing agreement. A cap raise is certainly not out of the question either.
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