News National Employees should fight for Qantas: Abbott

Employees should fight for Qantas: Abbott

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The Australian government will consider any proposal the nation’s struggling airline puts on the table but has stopped short of meeting calls to change foreign-ownership laws.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says is it important for Qantas, including staff, management and shareholders, to fight its own battle.

Qantas, facing a sinking share price and plans for 1000 job cuts, has appealed to the commonwealth to ease the 1992 Qantas Sale Act.

The act limits foreign ownership in the airline to 49 per cent.

According to media reports on Sunday, a Qantas pilot is considering an employee bid for up to 25 per cent in the iconic airline, known as “the flying kangaroo”, to keep it viable.

Mr Abbott said staff and shareholders “should fight for survival and prosperity of the business”.

“We are perfectly prepared to consider whatever proposals Qantas puts to us,” he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

“But in the end there is no proposal that government will successfully implement if Qantas is not prepared to fight for it.

“We need to see Qantas staff, management and shareholders doing everything they humanly can to get Qantas’ house in order so this great and iconic Australian business can have the kind of flourish and future we all want for it.”

He denied he was critical of the airline’s management.

“I am not critical of Qantas management or staff. I am just saying that no one will fight harder for the survival of Qantas than its managers, its workers and its shareholders,” he said.

However, Mr Abbott told the Australian Financial Review at the weekend that Qantas’s desire for easing of the Qantas Sale Act was not “unreasonable”.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce had said the airline was not competing on a level playing field, with competitor Virgin receiving a $350 million injection from its foreign owners Etihad, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines.