6 December 2013: KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has launched a scathing attack on the “free skies” policy, which has seen foreign airlines cut essential services and off-shore Australian jobs, which if not addressed will see the destruction of our nations airline, Qantas.

Mr Katter’s comments follow Qantas’s disastrous profit forecast of $300 million lost over the first half of the financial year and the announcement to axe 1,000 jobs.

“The competitors are getting rid of their marginal services so they can concentrate on belting the hell out of Qantas on the overseas operations.

“The big boys in town which are owned lock, stock and barrel by foreigners are pushing Qantas out the window.

“Quite clearly Qantas is in crisis and the Federal Government needs to act,” said Mr Katter.

In February 2013, Mr Katter introduced legislation into the Australian Parliament which ensures that Australian airlines can only access domestic flights and ports by meeting a definition of “Australian”; namely that the airline conducts at least 80 per cent of its aircraft maintenance in Australia and that airline crews must reside in Australia.

“We are re-introducing our legislation, with the new definition of ‘Australian operator’ so that either you are an Australian operator with Australian crews, Australian technicians, Australian engineers or Australian owned or you are not an Australian airline.

“Currently, we understand that Virgin Australia will not meet that definition, as the majority of their operations is already off-shore.

“If you are fair dinkum about a free skies policy, every single aircraft engineer, all 7,000 Australian jobs – will move overseas.

“The last thing we want is to see so called “Australian” airlines off-shoring jobs and maintenance work,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter’s comments follow the announcement by Virgin Australia that direct flights from Townsville to Cairns and Townsville to Rockhampton would be cut from January 27, leaving just one airline to service the routes.

“Privatisation of the airports must rank as one of the top examples of terrible government.

“The airlines should be increasing flights instead of going backwards; now under a completely profit based system now, they are cutting marginal services which are essential service for the people of Australia.

“The free skies policy, was beaut for the capital cities, but was bloody disastrous for the rest of us,” said Mr Katter.