Pilots propose aviation policy reform to save Qantas

Pilots propose aviation policy reform to save Qantas

  • AIPA formally urges management to join united push for change
  • Poll shows Australians overwhelmingly support aviation policy reform

Practical and achievable policy changes could serve the national interest by allowing Qantas to compete on a more level playing field, the Australian and International Pilots Association stated today.

Qantas pilots have been meeting with Parliamentarians in Canberra this week to push the case for a number of potential legislative shifts that would make it easier for Qantas to operate in the ‘open skies’ Australian environment, against competitors that are generously supported by foreign governments.

Among the proposals suggested by AIPA to level the playing field for Qantas include:

  • Lowering the tax burden on Qantas to bring it closer to competitors like Emirates and Etihad, which pay 0% company tax and 0% payroll tax.
  • Accelerating the current ten-year depreciation rates on aircraft purchases to bring Australia closer to foreign competitors. Currently Singapore Airlines can depreciate aircraft over three years, while Air New Zealand can depreciate aircraft over five years.
  • Altering ‘open skies’ international agreements to be based on seats available instead of frequency of service.

AIPA President Captain Barry Jackson last week wrote to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce to propose a cooperative effort between pilots and management to push for the changes.

AIPA Vice President Captain Richard Woodward said ensuring the survival of Qantas was in the national interest on myriad levels.

“Australians have a deep emotional connection to Qantas and it would be a great national shame to allow it to fall by the wayside, however there are more practical reasons to reform Australian aviation as well,” Captain Woodward said.

“Tourism is a huge and vital part of our national economy. Leaving it solely to foreign, government-owned carriers to service our tourism industry would be risky indeed. Similarly, Australia requires a flagship carrier in times of emergency. Qantas’s role here has been demonstrated countless times over its 90-year history, including recently after the Bali Bombings.

“AIPA has put forward a number of positive policy reforms which we believe can protect Australian aviation and the flying kangaroo. We have formally requested management to work alongside us on this critical issue.

“Of course pilots have had, and continue to have, serious misgivings about the approach taken by current Qantas management. Indeed, AIPA remains locked in arbitration at Fair Work Australia today. However, that does not change the fact that our interests are fundamentally aligned – both pilots and management need Qantas to overcome what is a hostile and uneven competitive environment in Australian skies.

“Management has a chance to work alongside Qantas pilots and other Qantas stakeholders to campaign for these changes that would benefit the airline. Given the ill feeling that remains in Canberra and across the country around last year’s grounding of the fleet, a unified front with pilots and staff would be a huge boost to management’s chances of achieving change.

“AIPA is not seeking hand-outs for Qantas or expensive government subsidies. We are simply proposing some broad policy changes that would help our flagship carrier stay strong and viable. Given the importance of aviation to our national economy we believe there is an overwhelming case for these changes to be considered.”

A national poll commissioned by AIPA and conducted by Your Source has shown strong public approval for legislative changes to assist Qantas to compete in Australia.