Virgin boss Branson warns over Australia government's Qantas intervention
SYDNEY (AFP) - British tycoon Richard Branson sounded a warning in full-page newspaper ads on Sunday about possible Australian government help for national carrier Qantas, urging business to "think twice" about investing in the country.
Mr Branson, whose Virgin Australia carrier is in direct competition with Qantas, lashed out at the conservative government in an open letter to the Australian public published in Sunday's newspapers.
Qantas has been lobbying the government to ease limits on foreign investment or provide state intervention to help shore up its bottom line as it battles record fuel costs and fierce competition from subsidised rivals.
The Australian carrier claims a 49 percent foreign ownership cap under the terms of its privatisation in 1995 leaves it at an unfair disadvantage to Virgin, which is majority-owned by state-backed Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Etihad.