Rex deputy chairman John Sharp has said the government’s replacement for JobKeeper will unfairly benefit Qantas and offer his airline little.
Talking to NCA Newswire on Thursday, Sharp said, “They’ll get 70 per cent of all the money and we’ll get the scraps.”
His comments follow Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiling the new package of measures for the aviation industry on Wednesday night that will include 800,000 half-price airfares to 13 tourism destinations including the Gold Coast, Whitsundays and Merimbula.
However, later on Thursday, Qantas confirmed its airlines would receive around 550,000 of those tickets, or around 70 per cent.
“I think it is a good concept, but I think it has some major unintended consequences because it ignores … the fact that there are some fantastic tourism destinations in regional Australia that won’t be serviced,” Sharp said.
At present, the deal only applies to 13 destinations, however, the government has hinted this could be expanded.
The current list is the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region (Proserpine and Hamilton Island), the Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula and Kangaroo Island.
Sharp pointed out that choosing only certain destinations would cause a “huge distortion” that could lead to an “uneven playing field to operate on”.
“It’s really a Qantas package,” he added.
The deal unveiled by Prime Minister Scott Morrison also includes cheap loans to small business coming off JobKeeper, wage subsidies for 8,600 international aviation employees and a six-month extension of the ‘RANS’ and ‘DANS’ supplemented routes initiative.
The industry groups representing airports, national airlines and regional aviation – Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ), Australian Airports Association (AAA) and Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) – have all backed the plan.
However, a conglomerate of eight unions has written a letter to the prime minister expressing their “utter dismay” at the deal.
Sharp’s new comments also come weeks after the two airlines first became involved in a public slanging match over networks, resulting in Qantas suggesting Rex was having a “tantrum”.
The row between the two airlines began in February when Rex said it was to discontinue five regional routes due to Qantas choosing to compete with it on eight separate routes.
Despite the argument, Qantas ploughed on and formally launched flights on two of routes between Sydney and Griffith, and Melbourne and Merimbula, while Rex itself continued with its plans to launch flights between Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane.