Virgin Australia ramped up its lobbying for a bailout by placing a full-page advert in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph warning of the dangers of a Qantas monopoly.
In an apparent swipe at its biggest rival, the text states, “Our biggest competitors need a challenger to keep them honest and innovative. A monopoly won’t even work for them.”
The Virgin Australia Group is currently seeking a $1.4 billion loan from the government to help it survive during the coronavirus crisis, but has also become embroiled in a tit-for-tat row with Qantas, which is lobbying to prevent it.
The advert is headlined, “A monopoly in Australian skies will be good for no one”, while the text reads, “Not the 25 million people who fly with Virgin Australia, who have seen a 37% reduction in airfares over the 20 years we’ve been operating.
“Not our 10,000 incredible people. Not our 4,000 loyal partners.
“Not the Australian economy, to which this airline adds 11 billion dollars a year. Or the 600,000 people who work in tourism.
“Our biggest competitors need a challenger to keep them honest and innovative. A monopoly won’t even work for them. It’s as clear as the blue sky.
“A competitive airline industry is good for every one of us, and will be an essential part of economic recovery. Let’s keep the air fair.”
On Friday, Australian Aviation reported comments from Virgin’s chief executive Paul Scurrah stating he was confident the airline could secure a bailout despite the Prime Minister playing down its chances.
When confronted with questions suggesting the country won’t hand the business a proposed $1.4 billion loan, Scurrah said, “That certainly hasn’t been the message we’ve been getting from the government. We’re continuing to work on that package.”
Earlier, the Prime Minister told reporters aid would only happen on a “sector-wide basis”.
Meanwhile, Virgin and Qantas remain at loggerheads, with the latter claiming any government help must be spread fairly among the two airline groups.
Scurrah has even formally complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about Qantas’ campaign.
Speaking to Sky News last month, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said, “It would be completely unfair to our sector. We’d be competing against the Australian government. Qantas couldn’t do that, it would be an unbalanced, uncompetitive environment.
“The government can’t pick winners and losers, the government has to be fair to every company. Whatever aid it’s giving to one company it must give to everyone in the sector.”