The Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA) has echoed comments by airline CEO John Borghetti last week criticising a government proposal to offer a debt guarantee to Qantas.
In a February 26 statement, VIPA questioned Qantas’s “ongoing capacity dumping” in order to maintain its 65 per cent ‘line in the sane’ market share, saying Qantas “added two flights…for every one Virgin flight – no matter the cost.”
“Rather than adding services to match demand and preserve yields, Qantas has chosen to pursue its ‘line in the sand’ leading, ironically, to the destruction of its own profit margins,” VIPA President Captain John Lyons said. “This reckless policy has seen Qantas profits turn into large losses over the last few years and now Qantas is expecting the taxpayer to prop it up.”
“What both the public and the Federal Government must remember is that Qantas has been by far the dominant airline in Australia for well over 20 years,” Captain Lyons added. “It has $3 billion in cash and available credit facilities, an extensive infrastructure network, massive Government support of its product, the ‘flag carrier’ title and now a tie-up with one of the world’s largest and fastest growing airlines, Emirates. The Australian taxpayer shouldn’t now be asked to help fund poor old Alan Joyce’s $5 million per year salary package and first-class travel at a time when they are struggling to find affordable childcare and could soon be paying more to visit the doctor.”
The statement added that Qantas’s “off-shoring” of jobs “made a mockery” of its Australian flag-carrier status. “By contrast, Virgin Australia has been steadily growing its local operations by expanding its routes and providing almost 10,000 jobs for Australians,” VIPA Executive Director, Simon O’Hara said. “During recent EBA negotiations, Virgin Australia and VIPA in fact agreed on key clauses in the Australian pilots’ EBA to keep the workforce based locally, further underlining Virgin’s commitment to Australia.”
Read more about the challenges facing Qantas here.