Qantas shares hit 52-week low after airline cops multiple blows overnight

Can it get any worse for the airline? Apparently it can — just ask investors.

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Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) shares are once again in freefall, forcing investors to take the brace position.

In early trade on Thursday morning the stock had fallen 2.57% from Wednesday's closing price of $4.86.

The stock has now set a new 52-week low as it battled two news items overnight that could have affected investor sentiment:

Merger dead, Qantas shares dive

The big news on Thursday morning was that the airline's proposed acquisition of charter and wet lease provider Alliance Aviation Services Ltd (ASX: AQZ) has been terminated.

The plan was first revealed in May last year, but in April this year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission expressed its opposition to it, citing competition dilution concerns.

That disapproval ended up fatal, with Qantas and Alliance deciding to abandon the merger on Thursday morning.

A Qantas statement to the ASX stated "both companies acknowledge that there is no reasonable path forward for the deal at present".

The development followed Wednesday's news that the federal government, under pressure after denying rival Qatar Airways' request to bring more flights to Australia, backflipped on its earlier decision to stop funding the ACCC's quarterly reports on the aviation industry.

Both Virgin Australia and Regional Express Holdings Ltd (ASX: REX) had asked for the monitoring to continue, while Qantas remained against it.

Qantas board members facing investor fury

Meanwhile proxy advisors have urged investors to vote against the re-election of Qantas board member Todd Sampson at the annual general meeting on 3 November.

Shareholder advocacy group Ownership Matters made the recommendation to investors, according to Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) newspapers, given Sampson's skills in advertising and brand management.

The airline has taken a battering to its public image over the past few weeks, with its share price diving in response.

Among other shortcomings, the blows included a court ruling Qantas illegally fired nearly 1,700 employees, an accusation of selling seats on cancelled flights, a now-reversed decision to pocket $500 million of customer credits, and its possible lobbying of politicians for protection from rivals.

Earlier this week, another Qantas board member, Maxine Brenner, faced a 17% protest vote against her when going up for re-election on the Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) board.

That happened on the back of proxy advisor ISS recommending she not be re-elected to the telco's leadership based on her underperformance at Qantas.

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Alliance Aviation Services. 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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