Qantas boss Alan Joyce insists his languishing airline is not looking for a government bailout, unlike Australian car makers.
“Qantas is not Holden,” he wrote in The Australian on Tuesday.
Since being privatised in 1995, the airline had performed strongly without taxpayer subsidies or tax concessions.
Nor had Qantas received preferential treatment on airport access or government travel.
“Qantas is not seeking an anti-competitive handout or bailout,” Mr Joyce said.
But there were actions the federal government could take right now and the airline was in discussions about them.
The Qantas boss says his airline is not operating in a free and fair market, citing Virgin Australia’s restructure in 2012 as a way of circumventing foreign ownership laws.
Virgin was pouring money into the domestic market to weaken Qantas and ultimately funnel local traffic to its services, Mr Joyce said.
While Qantas was in Australia to make a profit, deliver returns to shareholders and serve as the national carrier, Virgin Australia’s three biggest shareholders were focused on the interests of Singapore, Abu Dhabi and New Zealand.
Mr Joyce defended the company’s decision to invest in the Asia market, a move criticised by some federal MPs who have called for his sacking and that of the airline’s board.
“The Jetstar businesses in Asia are a great example of Australian entrepreneurship,” he said.
Australian Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said the government needed to keep its options open – and that didn’t mean sending Qantas offshore.
“The government needs to consider all options to support Qantas, including taking an ownership stake,” he told reporters in Canberra.
The minor party would not support changes in parliament to allow greater overseas ownership of Qantas because that would almost certainly leave Australia without a national carrier.