Qantas needs to publicly make the case for why it needs government assistance, one Liberal backbencher says.
The airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, has said it is not looking for a government handout, admitting there is “little political or community appetite” for changing the Qantas Sale Act restricting foreign ownership.
But speaking at a tourism function in Canberra on Wednesday night, he said the federal government could still come to national carrier’s aid, hinting that the airline continues to seek a debt guarantee.
Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan described Mr Joyce’s speech as “sobering”.
“I think most people who in the room readily accepted that they are facing some serious challenges, and that the airline is going to have to take some serious steps to ensure that it is going to be profitable into the future,” he told ABC Radio.
However, the airline needed to make a public case for government intervention, he said.
“They need to publicly make the case as to how the Qantas Sale Act is holding them back, that it is placing a regulatory straight jacket on them,” Mr Tehan said.
Mr Joyce said Qantas had encouraged the government to address the uneven playing field created by the Qantas Sale Act, which limits any foreign ownership of the airline to 49 per cent.
“The Act limits our financial options. It adds cost to our business, and it influences our actions as a publicly-listed company,” he said in his speech.
“Over the long term, repealing it is essential to remove the distortions in our aviation system.”