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Airports attack Qantas over deferred payments

written by Adam Thorn | April 8, 2020

Brisbane airport is one of a number of transfer hubs angry with Qantas cost-cutting strategies (Brisbane Airport)

The Australian Airports Association (AAA) has said jobs are at risk after Qantas stopped airport rent payments and deferred aeronautical charges due to the coronavirus crisis.

AAA chief executive Simon Bourke told The Australian Financial Review, “It’s sad to hear our biggest airline is using this crisis to look out only for itself.”

The newspaper reports that Qantas has deferred aeronautical payments for February and March, informing airports it will discuss repayment plans when the pandemic eases. It has also supposedly stopped paying rent on leased areas such as staff rooms and lounges from 1 February.

The business does, however, plan to pay aeronautical charges issued from 10 April on time, along with security payments.

Bourke said, “A company that is sharing in $1 billion in government support for airlines must not refuse to meet its basic obligations to others in the industry. Failure to do so puts jobs at risk right across the aviation industry.”


Qantas responded by saying, “We are also asking our suppliers to support us during these unprecedented times. Our suppliers, including airports, have been very understanding of the acute difficulties that all airlines are facing.”

Last month, the Australian flag carrier announced it would stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 workers to save costs.

Two individual airports were also critical of Qantas. Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said, “Everyone in the aviation industry is trying to work together to find a way through this challenge, protect as many jobs as possible and remain viable until we all can reach recovery. There is [a] widespread disappointment that this has not happened.”

While Brisbane Airport chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff added, “Airports don’t have the luxury of being able to ‘hibernate’ their businesses. We need to keep our airfields and terminals operating so that repatriation flights can bring Australians home, emergency flights can land, and freight can continue.

“We appreciate greatly that so many of our business partners, including airlines, recognise that. It’s a shame, not all do.”

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Comments (10)

  • Wayno


    Australian capital city airports, largely operating as monopolies in their regions, have been raking in very healthy profits for many years now. For example, BNE generated a $394.1 million profit for FY19 and $350.7m profit the year before. Similar story for SYD, MEL, PER and ADL. They have been cash cows for their owners. If there are examples of companies in the aviation sector that should be capable of absorbing a short-term hit to income during COVID-19 – it’s these airports.

  • Red Cee


    Qantas is wrong in this. If Virgin, who are in extreme financial difficulty can pay its due money, so can Qantas.

    • Wayno


      Fair point Red Cee, but the counter argument is that Qantas’s discipline in cutting all non-essential costs at times like this is one reason that they are not faced with the same extreme financial difficulty as their competitor.

  • Rod Pickin


    This action by the QF group certainly rubs salt in the wounds of us mere punters especially when “discussions, approvals” on fare refunds are just hanging about, no doubt I am one of the many affected, not a good feeling.

  • Dean


    And this surprises them because? Yet more of AJ’s arrogant and obnoxious actions where he thinks he is invincible

    • Jack



  • Well said Red and Dean. Simon Bourke was right on target with his comment to AFR. More evidence, if any were needed, that Qantas cannot be allowed to have an effective monopoly in the domestic air transport market post Covid 19.

  • Christopher Randal


    If the airports don’t like just ban QF from using their facilities.

  • Patrickk


    I am not sure what the issue is. What is wrong for not paying for what yo don’t use. I am unclear what virgin is paying for but do note it is asking the government for a equity linked loan (read nationalisation). That may have something to do with it. Given airports are strategic assets then the government should pick up the tab and given they are a monopoly perhaps an equity linked loan so they can be naturally nationalised if need be.

  • Ralph


    I believe all Australian Airports should be re-nationalised so they are once again Australian sovereign assets like they used to be.

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