The TWU has said Qantas “cannot be trusted” to compete fairly with rivals if it were cleared to acquire charter and FIFO specialist Alliance.
In a submission to the ACCC regarding the proposed takeover, the union said the move would increase fares for customers and stop new airlines from entering the market.
Australian Aviation reported in August how the competition watchdog raised concerns in its preliminary report into the purchase, raising doubts as to whether the deal would be allowed to continue. The ACCC is currently inviting feedback from affected parties ahead of a final decision due on 17 November.
On Tuesday, the TWU released its letter to the organisation arguing that Qantas has a “long history of undermining competition” by deploying its market dominance to “overwhelm competitors”.
“Qantas’ track record is poor,” said Michael Kaine, the TWU’s national secretary. “Its role in the capacity wars with Virgin Australia (Virgin) resulted in Qantas imposing unilateral wage freezes on its workforce after being refused a bailout from the Government.
“At the start of the pandemic, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce actively lobbied against the Federal Government stepping in to prevent Virgin from collapse, which would have resulted in a Qantas monopoly, saying the Prime Minister should not ‘pick winners and losers’.
“After this remark, Qantas benefitted more than any other company in Australia from JobKeeper wage subsidies before illegally terminating its entire ground handling and cleaning workforce.”
Kaine continued that Qantas had “not only lost its social license to operate but also proven that it cannot be trusted to compete fairly”.
Specifically, he argued the move would allow Qantas to build a fleet of aircraft that “cannot be matched by other airlines” and increase market share at the expense of Virgin.
Qantas said in August that it believed the takeover would not hurt the “highly competitive charter segment”.
The business’ group executive of associated airlines, John Gissing, argued, “As the ACCC has previously acknowledged, customers in the resources flying segment are sophisticated and well-resourced companies with procurement expertise who have strong bargaining power in their negotiations with airlines and other operators.
“The resources sector continues to grow and any new tender for airline services will be very competitive. It makes a lot of sense for us to combine with Alliance to improve the services we can offer, which is a positive for both airlines as well as the travelling public.”
If agreed, the deal would mean Qantas would purchase all of Alliance Aviation three years after acquiring a 19.9 per cent stake in the carrier.
It was shortly followed by rival Rex purchasing FIFO operator Cobham, as major airlines looked to invest in reliable FIFO (fly in, fly out) services during the difficult post-COVID-19 recovery.