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Australia's Lower House hurdle unlikely to aid ailing Qantas

Published on Mar 6, 2014 2:40 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - A Bill to repeal foreign ownership restrictions on Australian carrier Qantas passed the Lower House of Parliament on Thursday, but it faces defeat in the Senate with the Labor opposition fearing jobs will go offshore.

Qantas has been lobbying for government help after a A$235 million (S$268 million) loss in the six months to Dec 31 and a decision to slash 5,000 jobs, but its plea for a debt guarantee or A$3 billion unsecured loan have been turned down.

The conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott instead favours watering down the Qantas Sale Act to help the carrier raise much-needed capital and put it on a more even footing with domestic competitors.

Qantas complains that it is battling not only high fuel prices but fierce competition from subsidised rivals such as Virgin Australia, which is majority-owned by state-run Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Air New Zealand.

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