Qantas will defend its dominant position in the domestic market “tooth and nail”, chief executive Alan Joyce says.
At a business forum in Perth on Wednesday, Mr Joyce took several swipes at rival Virgin Australia, which has expanded in recent months with the backing of foreign investors.
He said “a giant wave of airline capacity” had permanently changed the aviation industry, along with ongoing record fuel prices and “an uneven playing field in the domestic market”.
He questioned whether shareholders in the Richard Branson-founded carrier had “an appetite for continuously writing cheques every year” to fund its loss-making battle for market share in the domestic market.
“That could go on indefinitely,” Mr Joyce said.
Qantas, which wants more foreign investors of its own, would fight to retain its 65 per cent share of the domestic market, he said.
“We’re going to defend tooth and nail our position,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce said the company’s biggest transformation since being privatised was continuing, removing $2 billion in costs over the next three years.
He acknowledged the tough commentary about the changes, which will see 5,000 jobs axed by mid-2017.
“We’ve already done some serious heavy lifting,” Mr Joyce said.
“We’re having to do some really tough things.”
Asked how he coped with criticism of the plan, he said it was important to believe in what you were doing – and be able to “switch off” outside work.
And he was used to naysayers, given many had knocked Qantas’ budget arm, Jetstar, in its early days.
But that was about to celebrate its 10th year and had 11 per cent lower costs than Tiger thanks to its larger scale, he said.