London: The chief executive of Qatar Airways says the Australian government should be prepared to offer national carrier Qantas financial support if the coronavirus pandemic keeps borders closed and international flights grounded.
Speaking exclusively to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker warned that if there is no coronavirus vaccine, all global airlines would either fold or be nationalised in some form. “Qantas is many times larger than Virgin Australia and what happens if Qantas is in difficulties? If I was the government, I would offer assistance to Alan [Joyce] because it is such an important economic tool,” he said.
Qatar Airways is state owned, and Mr Al Baker said opponents of government support needed to be realistic about the challenges airlines face and the benefits they provide. “I’m sure that the people who are complaining about the subsidy and state aid will all go to the state for money to survive, or, because an airline is such an important economic tool, some private airlines will be nationalised, again,” he said.
Governments across the world have committed vast sums to rescue packages for airlines this year, led by the Trump Administration’s $US25 billion ($34 billion) bailout for US carriers, but the Morrison government baulked at bailing out number two carrier Virgin Australia when it collapsed into