The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) has offered its support to Qantas’s campaign to change the Qantas Sale Act amended, with the caveat that any increased investment that would flow from easing of the Act’s restrictions be directed to the airline’s Australian operations.
In a statement AIPA, the Qantas pilots union, notes that rapid changes in the Australian airline industry means it is now “willing” to support changes to the Qantas Sale Act, which limit foreign ownership levels in Qantas to 49 per cent, and any single airline investor to 25 per cent.
“The problem we have at the moment is an un-level playing field: Virgin is free to access foreign investment channels that Qantas cannot due to the restrictions of the QSA. It is therefore clear that the only viable policy approach is for the QSA to be reviewed. However, if changes to the QSA are justified to ensure the Australian industry is not disadvantaged against foreign competitors, then it is absolutely vital that any advantages gained through its amendment must flow straight to Qantas’s Australian operations,” AIPA President Nathan Safe said.
“Therefore, AIPA would support changes to the QSA, but only if the foreign investment that flows from those changes is used to invest in Australian aviation and Australian jobs. Under such changes, new streams of foreign investment could not be used on the sort of unproven forays into Asia that we have seen Qantas Group pursue through Jetstar and other subsidiaries in recent years.”
Continues Safe: “While specific ownership restrictions in the QSA may have become unsuited to the modern environment, the fundamental purpose of the Act – to ensure that the vital economic and social benefits that come from public ownership of a national airline are still achieved under private ownership – is as important as ever.
“So if Qantas management is truly seeking changes to the QSA in order to support its local operations, the local economy, and local jobs, then there is no reason that such a caveat should present a problem.”