In an upcoming Senate inquiry, former Qantas boss Alan Joyce may be summoned if he refuses to appear. The inquiry will investigate the government’s decision to block Qatar Airways’ bid for additional flights in Australia. This inquiry will also examine the broader competitiveness of Australia’s aviation sector.
The Qatar debacle has sparked speculation, with reports suggesting that Qantas lobbied the government to reject Qatar Airways’ bid. As part of the inquiry, Qatar’s ambassador to Australia, representatives from the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qantas chairman Richard Goyder, and CEO Vanessa Hudson, along with regulators such as the ACCC, will be called upon to give evidence.
Although Alan Joyce was asked to appear, he is currently overseas despite his recent resignation as CEO of Qantas. Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, the Opposition’s spokesperson for transport, expressed disappointment but stated that they are in conversation with Joyce and his representatives. Senator McKenzie hopes that Joyce will assist the Senate inquiry voluntarily. However, if necessary, the Senate committee has the power to compel witnesses who refuse to appear.
Transport Minister Catherine King declined to comply with the Senate’s order for production of related documents and has since gone on leave, which was allegedly planned prior to the inquiry being announced.
Qatar Airways’ chief, Akbar Al Baker, criticized the government’s decision in an interview with CNN, calling it “unfair.” He highlighted the airline’s support in repatriating stranded citizens and providing essential supplies during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Senator McKenzie acknowledged the importance of Qatar Airways’ repatriation flights, stating that they had a positive proposal for the government. She believes the rejection of their bid warrants further investigation and that there are many aspects that need to be examined in the inquiry.
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