Joe Hockey has suggested that the Government either support Qantas financially or lift laws preventing the airline from seeking more foreign funds to give it a leg up in its fight against Virgin Australia.
Hockey reportedly told a business conference in Sydney today that Virgin was “effectively a state-owned enterprise of three other jurisdictions”, with a majority of shares held by Etihad, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines.
Meanwhile, Qantas is required by law to keep at least 51% of shares Australian-owned.
Here’s what Hockey said, according to the AFR:
In relation to Qantas, do you say, which would probably be my preference, do you say: ‘Okay, we are going to remove all that shareholding restrictions and let it fly?’
Or do you say: ‘Okay, we are going to have a national carrier but we have to do something about it.’ If it gets into any sort of challenging environment, we have to be prepared to put our hands in our pockets and support it.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce last week met with politicians in Canberra, arguing that it faced unfair competition from Virgin.
Qantas shares are down 1.67% today, closing at $1.18, while the ASX 200 index slid just 0.45%.
There’s more on the Fin.