says legislation being considered by Australian lawmakers would derail its plans to establish overseas carriers and would also threaten the financial viability of the airline.
The proposed bill is touted as a job protection measure, but Qantas says it would “have the effect of handcuffing Qantas to investments in Australia and prevent it from investing capital and resources into new airline ventures anywhere outside Australia.”
The legislation would change the terms of the Qantas Sale Act, which is aimed at keeping Qantas as an Australia-owned and-based carrier. Among other changes, the latest bill would set subsidiary pay rates at the same level as the Qantas mainline operation.
Neither the government nor the opposition has publicly supported the private members’ bill, so its chances of passage are unclear. It has the backing of unions, which are opposed to Qantas’s plans to set up an Asia-based premium carrier, as well as the expansion of Jetstar under separate work rules.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says changing the Sale Act would not protect jobs at the carrier and, in fact, would have the opposite effect by putting the company in financial jeopardy. Joyce stresses that the carrier has never violated the terms of the Qantas Sale Act and that its expansion plans would also be in conformity with current rules.
A hearing on the proposed legislation was held on Nov. 4 by Australia’s Senate transport committee, with Joyce testifying. Joyce was subjected to at times hostile questioning about overseas expansion plans as well as the two-day grounding of its mainline fleet, which led the government to intervene in the airline’s labor dispute.
Many questions focused on how far in advance Qantas had planned the grounding and when it informed the government and opposition about its intentions.
Although it was the government that urged Australia’s labor relations panel to step in to resolve the labor dispute, many high-ranking lawmakers–including Prime Minister Julia Gillard–have strongly criticized the airline’s decision to lock out workers and temporarily ground its mainline operation.