The nation’s competition watchdog has dismissed claims Qantas is attempting to push other airlines out of the domestic market with predatory behaviour.
In an aviation report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Wednesday, the regulator said claims made by Regional Express that Qantas is attempting to price out the smaller airline were unfounded.
Rex has publicly bashed Qantas over its recent expansion into regional domestic routes while international travel remains grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Qantas has announced more than 26 new domestic routes, with eight being routes where Rex operates as the main carrier.
Rex says the behaviour is predatory and has threatened to pull out of five routes once the federal government’s regional aviation support ends.
However, Qantas only operates on one of the routes Rex has threatened to ditch.
The ACCC said there were positive signs the industry was recovering and competition within the domestic market seemed to be increasing.
“Rex’s recent expansion into the domestic network, and its announced plans to enter additional routes in competition with Qantas, does not suggest that the entry of Qantas on particular routes is impeding Rex from competing across the broader network,” the ACCC said in a statement
“To the contrary, competition appears to be increasing not decreasing.”
Rex deputy chair John Sharp last week dubbed the Morrison government’s half-price ticket scheme “QantasKeeper”, claiming the $1.2bn aviation package set to boost domestic travel would mostly benefit the flying kangaroo.
“It’s really a Qantas package,” Mr Sharp said.
“They’ll get 70 per cent of all the money and we’ll get the scraps.”
Qantas anticipates to receive 550,000 of the discounted tickets, with elevated travel numbers set to help 7500 employees who were stood down because of the pandemic.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has also hit back at Rex’s claims last Friday, saying the regional carrier had received ample support.
“You can’t feel sorry for Rex because Rex has gotten all this money from the government previously,” Mr Joyce said.
“They got as a percentage of revenue seven times the aid that Qantas got last year, which is the equivalent of Qantas getting $7bn.”