Navigating Qantas Issues: A Look at Prime Minister Albanese’s Responses

A Qantas Boeing 787 is marshalled to the parking area.
Photo Credit: Qantas Instagram
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

In this morning’s interview on ABC Radio Perth, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addressed a series of questions related to ongoing issues involving Qantas and its subsidiary, Jetstar.

The conversation touched upon concerns regarding unutilized flight credits, decisions about airline operations, and perceptions of conflicts of interest.

The interview follows the day after Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce was grilled over a series of issues at a Senate inquiry hearing into the cost of living crisis.

Flight Credits and Customer Satisfaction


Qantas and Jetstar’s Outstanding Flight Credits: A Point of Concern

One of the pressing questions posed to Prime Minister Albanese revolved around the sizable amount of unutilized flight credits, totaling nearly half a billion dollars, resulting from canceled flights.

The interviewer raised concerns about the delay in returning this money to customers and the perception that the airlines were using these funds as interest-free loans.

In response, Prime Minister Albanese emphasized the airlines’ responsibility to prioritize customer satisfaction. He stressed the importance of offering customers the choice to either receive refunds or use their bookings for future flights.

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The Prime Minister acknowledged that airlines need to honor the trust customers place in them when making bookings.

New Qantas Group livery showing Indigenous Voice to Parliament support.
Photo Credit: Qantas

Air Service Agreements and Decision-Making


Scrutiny over Qatar’s Additional Flights and Qantas’ Influence

The interview turned to questions about the Australian Government’s decision not to grant Qatar Airways additional flights into and out of the country.

Accusations were made that this decision was influenced by Qantas, potentially safeguarding the airline’s profits.

Albanese refuted the notion that the decision was driven by protecting Qantas’ interests. He explained that such decisions are made based on country-to-country air service agreements and are not uncommon.

He highlighted that similar decisions were made even in the past when he held the position of Transport Minister. These decisions aim to strike a balance between competition and access to airport gateways.

Competition and Airfare Reduction


Exploring the Impact of More Competition on Airfares

Another query put forward by the interviewer was whether increasing competition through additional flights would lead to lower airfares.

Prime Minister Albanese outlined that aviation operates through agreements between nations, and each nation controls access to its airspace. He pointed out that while Australia boasts an open aviation system, these agreements are complex and multifaceted.

Drawing on his experience as Transport Minister, he highlighted the negotiations required to secure access for airlines to specific routes and destinations.

Qantas execs with a departure board showing new lounge openings.
Photo Credit: Qantas

Perceived Conflicts of Interest


Probing Alleged Closeness between the Government and Qantas

The interview concluded with questions about the Prime Minister’s perceived closeness to Qantas. The revolved around reports of the Prime Minister’s son being offered a membership to the exclusive ‘invitation-only’ Qantas Chairman’s Lounge, raised questions of potential conflicts of interest.

Prime Minister Albanese dismissed the notion that engaging with Australian industries, including Qantas, indicates undue influence. He stressed that government engagement with industries has been a longstanding practice across various sectors.

The fact that Chairman’s Lounge memberships were offered to all Members of Parliament was highlighted as normal procedure, and the Prime Minister stated that this benefit is duly declared.

In Conclusion


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s responses shed light on the intricate dynamics of the aviation industry and the role of the government in balancing competition and access.

While addressing concerns about unutilized flight credits and the perception of conflicts of interest, the Prime Minister emphasized customer choice and transparent engagement.

As the aviation sector navigates the challenges posed by the pandemic and beyond, these insights provide valuable context for understanding the decisions and considerations at play.

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