Australian PM backs lifting Qantas foreign ownership limit
SYDNEY, Dec 14, 2013 (AFP) - Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has suggested he may support lifting foreign ownership restrictions on Qantas, saying the embattled carrier's push for a level playing field was not unreasonable.
Qantas has been lobbying the government to relax the Qantas Sale Act, which limits foreign ownership in the national carrier to 49 per cent. The struggling airline argues the cap hurts its ability to compete, particularly against domestic rival Virgin Australia, which is majority-owned by state-backed Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Etihad.
"Where we can be helpful we will certainly try to be helpful but as I understand it, what Qantas wants is to be unshackled," Mr Abbott said in an interview in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published on Saturday.
"They want to be able to compete with Virgin on a level playing field. Now I don't think that's an unreasonable request on their part, but that's a matter for the parliament as well as the government."