The Virgin Australia CEO has criticized the government for preventing Qatar Airways from operating more flights to Australia, despite Qantas demanding the ban.
In a private video message to staff and leaked to Daily Mail Australia, Virgin boss Jayne Hrdlicka blasted the move and blamed soaring airfares on a lack of competition.
She explained that passengers had to pay more due to the limited number of international flights to and from the country, which doubled the price of tickets.
And she added that Australia’s economy was also hurting, with fewer tourists entering the country due to a lack of passenger seats and high prices.
Approval of additional flights via Qatar could instantly improve the situation, she said, but the request was denied by the federal government.
“We are deeply disappointed,” she told workers in the personal videogram to company staff.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was outraged after his son Nathan, 21, and his girlfriend Jodie Haydon (pictured with the Prime Minister and Alan Joyce) secured free membership to the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge
Qatar Airways wanted to limit its number of flights to Australia and this decision was supported by Virgin but opposed by Qantas and blocked by the government.
“Qatar is one of the only airlines in the world that can offer four additional services a day to Australia overnight.
“And for some reason they were turned down. There is no understandable reason why these rights have been denied to them.
Qatar Airways’ additional flights – as a gateway to the rest of the world – have been approved by all relevant government departments, it was learned on Friday.
But Qantas boss Alan Joyce wanted the move vetoed, and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s cabinet blocked it.
“It’s the influence of Alan Joyce,” a source said. The Australian.
The Prime Minister has already been outraged after his son Nathan, 21, and his girlfriend Jodie Haydon were granted free membership to the prestigious Qantas Chairman’s Lounge.
Transport Minister Catherine Knight blocked the 28 additional flights to Qatar earlier this month and told parliament it was “not in the national interest”.
But she denied the decision gave Qantas an unfair advantage, and said it was an “unfair characterization”.
She also denied it was linked to outrage over the forced gynecological examination of 13 female airline passengers by Qatari authorities investigating the discovery of the body of a newborn baby in a bin at Doha airport in October. 2020.
Mr Joyce defended Qantas’ opposition to Qatar’s Australian expansion plan when it announced his airline’s $2.5 billion in profits on Thursday.
“What we have said in relation to Qatar…is that there should be no rights given as a huge amount of capacity is being put back on the market,” he said. .
“Double these rights (for Qatar) could actually distort the market and this has proven to be correct as capacity has essentially doubled over this period.”
“From July 1 this year to June 30, 6.4 million seats will be added to international capacity.”
He said the government dictates access rights to countries and “takes into account many considerations”.
He added: “There are many reasons why the government would consider granting or not granting rights. »
Qantas is linked to Qatar Airways through the Oneworld airline alliance – but does not feature its name or logo on its website alongside its other 25 Oneworld international airlines or partners.
The national carrier partners with UAE-based Emirates airline – Qatar Airways’ rival in the Middle East – on many of its international routes, while Virgin Australia has an official tie to Qatar.
“(Qatar Airways) is our partner,” Ms Hrdlicka said in her message to staff at Virgin Australia’s Brisbane headquarters. “They have served Australia well throughout Covid.
“Most importantly, they provide us with the opportunity to attract additional traffic to Australia for much needed international tourism.”
She said more open routes would have an immediate impact on airfares.
Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO of Virgin Australia, said there was “no understandable reason” to prevent Qatar Airways from operating more flights to Australia.
Anthony Albanese’s government blocked Qatar Airways’ bid and said it was not in the ‘national interest’ in a move backed by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (pictured with the Prime Minister and soccer star Adam Goodes).
“The central theme is that airfares are just too high in Australia for international travel,” she said. “Prices depend on the amount of capacity available.
“And between Australia and Europe there is not enough capacity and prices have been up to twice 2019 levels.” At present, they are still 50 percent higher.
She said the additional flights to Qatar would bring an additional $500 million a year to the Australian economy through increased overseas tourism.
“It goes mainly to small and medium-sized businesses across the country, many of which are based in Queensland,” said.
“Tour operators will tell you that they are really hungry for international tourists to come back because they spend their money differently than we do when we travel domestically.
“$500 million taken out of the economy in this decision means fewer jobs, fewer opportunities and a denial of growth for a part of the economy that has suffered the most during Covid.”
“So we are disappointed and we will continue to work hard to make sure there is a way to make this possible.”
“Qatar is a great partner for Australia, it’s a great partner for Virgin Australia and its inbound tourism flow obviously fills our planes as well.”
“So it’s important for all of us.”
Ms Hrdlicka ran low-cost airline Qantas Jetstar from 2012 to 2017 and answered to Mr Joyce.
Ms Hrdlicka ran low-cost airline Qantas Jetstar from 2012 to 2017 and met Mr Joyce (they are pictured together in 2013 on a trip to Seattle to pick up a new Boeing Dreamliner)