Qantas boss Alan Joyce says Australia still only has room for two major airline groups and it is unlikely both Virgin Australia and new rival Regional Express (Rex) will survive the post-pandemic aviation dogfight.
Mr Joyce said in an interview on Wednesday that country airline Rex launching flights between Sydney and Melbourne in March would spark fierce competition on the busy route.
“My personal view is that this market has never sustained three airline groups and it probably won’t into the future,” he told an online event hosted by Reuters.
“You can be guaranteed that Qantas will be one of them – it’s who else is going to be in the market place post this and into the future is going to be interesting.”
The corporate regulator has reprimanded the airline Regional Express for failing to tell investors about plans to launch flights between Sydney and Melbourne before they were splashed across a national newspaper.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said on Wednesday it would restrict Regional Express (Rex) from using exemptions for reduced disclosure in fundraising documents for one year, meaning it must issue a full prospectus if it wants to raise funds from investors in that period.
ASIC’s action was triggered by an interview Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp gave to The Australian Financial Review in May this year revealing the airline was considering an investment of $200 million to launch flights between Sydney and Melbourne, taking on Qantas and Virgin Australia on the highly lucrative route.
The ASX put Rex’s shares in a trading halt after the article was published on May 12, with Rex confirming to the market the following day it had “been approached by several parties interested in providing the equity needed for Rex to start domestic operations in Australia” and that the amount of equity required would be around $200 million.
Regional Express is taking on the airline giants by expanding its service to offer $79 flights between Sydney and Melbourne from March next year.
Travellers will be able to fly between the two capitals for a fraction of the cost after Rex promised to make 100,000 discounted fares available to purchase from Wednesday.
The move will see the Rex fly commercially between Sydney and Melbourne for the first time as it looks to grow its service to capital cities.
Changes align with the launch of three leased Boeing 737s, which Virgin flew before it went into administration in April. The airline will start by offering nine return flights between Sydney and Melbourne daily.
Another two aircraft will arrive by Easter, when the airline plans to add Brisbane to its domestic network before expanding to other capital cities if all goes well.
In a statement, Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp said all fares will come with the same perks as flying with other airlines such as pre-assigned seating, checked bagged, hospitality services and online check-in.
“We will be offering premium full service with our trademark country hospitality but at fares pegged at the budget carrier level,” he said.
On-board Wi-Fi will also be available to purchase.
Mr Sharp said eight business class seats will be available on the route.
“If all things go as planned, we hope to grow our fleet to 8-10 by the end of 2021,” he said.
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates has been described by independent senator for South Australia Rex Patrick as holding “an antiquated and self-serving vision of international sport” in a scathing letter sent to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee.
Rex Patrick wants Australia to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
John Coates said the AOC does not support a boycott for a myriad of reasons, including harming Brisbane’s bid for the 2032 Games
Senator Patrick said the AOC’s rejection of the calls for a boycott suggested it was ignoring “respect for human rights”
Senator Patrick has not only called for Australia to boycott the next Winter Olympics on human rights grounds, but has recommended changing the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020 to bring the autonomous AOC under its scope.
On Friday, Mr Coates, who is also a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), delivered a 24-page submission to the committee saying why the AOC does not support Senator Patrick’s call for a boycott.
“The AOC does not support a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games,” his letter said.
“The AOC also opposes any amendment that would subject its activities to the arrangements contemplated by the Bill, as this could have serious consequences for Australia’s participation in the Olympic Movement.
“Any proposal to bring the AOC within the ambit of the Bill would fetter its autonomy under the Olympic Charter and, in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), could jeopardise its recognition as a National Olympic Committee (NOC).
“The potential consequences for the AOC, Australian athletes, and others could be significant and detrimental and include — athletes not being able to compete at upcoming Games under the Australian flag, including the Tokyo 2020 Games and Beijing Winter Games in 2022 and destroying Brisbane’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2032.”
Senator Patrick writes in his letter that Mr Coates’s assertions “are very big claims that lack credibility”.
“Notwithstanding his position as an IOC vice president, Mr Coates can’t predict what the IOC response to a boycott will be,” he said.
In reference to the autonomy of the AOC the Senator said the autonomy of many National Olympic Committees was “questionable at best”.
“In particular, no-one would seriously suggest that the Chinese Olympic Committee is independent of Government influence when its membership is comprised entirely of Chinese Government officials and Chinese Communist Party members,” he wrote.
“Like all institutions in China, the Chinese Olympic Committee is totally controlled by the Communist regime which is directly responsible for gross human rights violations (including I might add political hostage taking and arbitrary detention of Australian citizens).
“If the IOC were serious about enforcing the provisions of the Olympic Charter, China would not be a member.”
IOC writing new human rights language into host cities’ contracts
The IOC has recently added a clause in to all host city contracts that demands Organising Committees to:
“Protect and respect human rights and ensure any violation of human rights is remedied in a manner consistent with international agreements, laws and regulations applicable in the Host Country and in a manner consistent with all internationally-recognised human rights standards and principles, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, applicable in the Host Country.”
The first Olympic Games subject to the new human rights clause will be Paris 2024.
The contract for Beijing 2022 was signed in 2015 before the changes were made.
The IOC has also committed to creating a human rights committee after a commissioned report from former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein and the Shift organisation.
Senator Patrick said “human rights must come ahead of sport”.
“The AOC president has a long history of jealously defending the AOC and the International Olympic Committee as institutions above and beyond political, moral influence or judgment,” Senator Patrick wrote.
“If Mr Coates’s overall position were to be accepted, one could only conclude that the Olympic Games and Australia’s participation in these events must exist in a complete moral vacuum.
“One might ask what scale of human rights violations would trigger any response from the IOC or the AOC.
“That may change with the introduction of human rights principles in the IOC’s Host City contracts for the 2024 Paris Summer Games and other Games thereafter.
“In a fast-changing world of international relations, those principles must be applied to the 2022 Beijing Games.
“Many countries fall short in respect of basic human rights, however the Chinese Communist regime’s violations are on such an enormous scale that they cannot be ignored, downplayed or whitewashed.”