Australia’s consumer commission regulator stated Tuesday it was probing Qantas for alleged anti-aggressive conduct after its chief executive appeared to call for ‘competitor Virgin Australia to be cut out of a large government bailout.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sim said he had received a letter from Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah alleging Qantas had engaged in anti-competitive conduct by “trying to send a message that Virgin was in trouble and wouldn’t survive” the coronavirus pandemic.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said last week that Australia’s authorities should “not take care of the badly managed corporations which have been badly controlled for ten years” and should not nationalize Virgin if it falters
Joyce further told a news conference the worldwide coronavirus pandemic had plunged airways into a “survival of the fittest,” and Qantas was “making sure we are last man standing”, feedback Sims stated he found “very unhelpful and inconsistent with the time of disaster that we’re in”.
Qantas and Virgin have called off all international routes and slashed domestic flights after Australia closed its frontiers to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The aviation industry has received an Aus$715 million (US$420 million) bailout from the Australian taxpayer.
Sims stated that if the ACCC found the substance to the allegations, Qantas could see itself in court, doubtlessly going through hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.