Mounting criticism of Qantas and the government’s move to block extra Qatar Airways flights into Australia will come to a head during the final day of spotlight on the decision.
A parliamentary committee is continuing to scrutinise the role Qantas played in the transport minister’s decision to knock back Qatar’s request to double weekly flights into Australia.
Ex-Qantas boss Alan Joyce will be summoned to give evidence after knocking back a request to appear before the committee.
Mr Joyce could not appear in person or via video link because of personal obligations while overseas, his legal representatives told the committee.
But the committee will use its power to summon the former boss when he lands back in Australia after receiving “no indication that Mr Joyce will be available” before the October 9 reporting deadline.
Qantas chairman Richard Goyder, CEO Vanessa Hudson and general counsel Andrew Finch will all appear before the committee during its final public hearing in Canberra on Wednesday.
Mr Goyder is facing growing calls to resign from pilots and shareholders.
The Australian Shareholders’ Association is the latest to add its voice to the call, with chief executive Rachel Waterhouse saying a slew of recent scandals meant his position was untenable.
“What I’ve been hearing from retail shareholders (is) that change is required and that Richard Goyder should step down,” she told ABC’s The Business.
The rest of the board was also put on notice to “contemplate themselves and the skills required for the future”.
The pilots union has also called for the chairman’s head, saying morale had never been lower following the illegal sacking of 1700 workers and allegations of illegally marketing cancelled flights.
Qatar Airways’ senior vice-president of corporate affairs Fathi Atti and senior vice-president of global sales Matt Raos will also front the inquiry on Wednesday, as will representatives from the Australian Airports Association and airlines Bonza and Rex.
The Qatar Civil Aviation Authority has accused Qantas of protecting its commercial interests with its partnership with Emirates, with Qatar’s current cap of 28 weekly flights compared with Emirates’ 84 and Etihad’s 63.
Transport Minister Catherine King has not elaborated on what “national interest” she used to deny the flights.
Flight caps could impede competition between airlines and ultimately punish consumers, Productivity Commission deputy chair Alex Robson told the inquiry on Tuesday.
Qantas was a “wannabe luxury consumer brand that really acts as a funnel for corporate greed”, Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said.
He said nothing would change if the status quo was left intact.
Nationals senator and committee chair Bridget McKenzie said Qantas had “not covered itself in glory”.
© AAP 2023