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Qantas probed over using crisis to ease out rival

Australia’s consumer watchdog said it was investigating Qantas for alleged anti-competitive behavior, after its CEO appeared to call for rival Virgin Australia to be cut out of a massive government bailout.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims told AFP he received a letter from Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah alleging Qantas had engaged in anti-competitive behavior by ”trying to send a message that Virgin was in trouble and would not survive” the coronavirus crisis.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that Australia’s government should “not look after the badly managed companies which have been badly managed for 10 years” and should not nationalize Virgin if it falters.

Joyce told a news conference the global coronavirus outbreak had plunged airlines into a ”survival of the fittest” and Qantas was ”making sure we are last man standing”, comments Sims said he found ”very unhelpful and inconsistent with the time of crisis that we’re in”.

Qantas and Virgin have suspended all international routes and slashed domestic flights after Australia shut its borders to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The aviation sector received Aus$715 million as bailout from the Australian government.

”Australia went into this crisis with two full service airlines and it’s really important that we come out the other end with two full service airlines,” insisted Sims.

”We don’t want to damage the structure of the economy, so that when the health crisis is over, we can rise up and be ready to go. So we don’t want the sort of structural change that might be suggested by Mr Joyce.” AFP

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