Qantas (ASX:QAN) considers leaving Sydney

The Aussie airline's headquarters has been in the harbour city for 82 years. But COVID-19 could drive Qantas out.

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Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) is considering moving its headquarters out of Sydney after 82 years.

The airline floated the idea Tuesday morning, along with the possibility of Jetstar moving its HQ away from Melbourne.

The COVID-19 downturn had already prompted the company to sack more than 8,000 workers.

And now, as its planes continue to sit on the ground, it has been forced to reconsider its spending on corporate real estate.

Qantas' 49,000 square-metre leased headquarters is located in Mascot in Sydney, right next to Sydney Airport. Jetstar's leased office space is in Collingwood in Melbourne's inner east. 

"Like most airlines, the ongoing impact of COVID means we'll be a much smaller company for a while," said Qantas chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson.

"We're looking right across the organisation for efficiencies, including our $40 million annual spend on leased office space."

As well as office space, some aviation facilities will also be reviewed for relocation. These include flight simulator centres in Sydney and Melbourne and heavy maintenance depots in Brisbane.

"As well as simply rightsizing the amount of space we have, there are opportunities to consolidate some facilities and unlock economies of scale," said Hudson.

"For instance, we could co-locate the Qantas and Jetstar head offices in a single place rather than splitting them across Sydney and Melbourne."

New western Sydney airport could be a new home

While most of Qantas' activities have to take place at airports, any other facilities that can "reasonably move" will be considered in the cost-cutting review.

"We'll also be making the new Western Sydney Airport part of our thinking, given the opportunity this greenfield project represents," Hudson said.

Colliers International has already been commissioned to sublease roughly 25,000 square metres of surplus office space in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. The lease on a 230 square-metre downtown Sydney office will not be renewed next month.

The facilities review is expected to take 3 months, according to the airline.

Qantas, starting in 1920 as the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, operated out of Winton, Queensland. After a few years in Longreach, Queensland then Brisbane, the headquarters moved to Sydney in 1938.

It started gradually moving its HQ from downtown Sydney to Mascot in the 1990s.

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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