According to industry figures, preventing Middle Eastern airline Qatar Airways from expanding its aircraft capacity would cost the Australian economy over $500 million in lost yearly tourism revenue. However, Transport Minister Catherine King told the legislature that this decision was made to preserve domestic job prospects.
The Australian Financial Review obtained figures from sources in the airline industry that show a cost of between $540 million and $788 million yearly in additional economic activity, based on the assumption that roughly 50% of the seats are sold to foreign tourists.
Ms. King, who wasn’t previously said why she decided to stop Qatar Airways from increasing flights to Melbourne and Sydney, told the parliament on Wednesday that she took action to safeguard the interests of the country.
“We only sign up to agreements that benefit our national interest, in all of its broad complexity,” she added. “That includes making sure we have an aviation sector, through the recovery, that employs Australian workers.”
We will always take into account the need to ensure that there are long-term, well-paying, secure jobs for Australians in the aviation sector when we are making these decisions, the government has determined that granting the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority’s request for additional services is not in our national interest.
As part of Qatar Airways‘ application for bilateral flying rights, the Federal Government asked for Qantas’ advice. According to The Australian, Qantas resisted the offer on the grounds that it would result in the loss of Australian jobs.