Despite Qantas’ $2.8 billion loss for the year, there is bipartisan confidence in the future of the national carrier.
The federal government and opposition believe Qantas has a strong future despite the airline’s $2.8 billion loss for the year.
But there are crossbench calls for the national carrier to be investigated over possible corporate law breaches, and the Australian Greens have blamed the government for the loss.
Qantas announced the $2.8 billion net loss on Thursday, having written down the value of its ageing fleet of Boeing 747s and A380s by $2.6 billion.
The announcement came after months of political debate over whether the airline should be offered a government debt guarantee or be freed up to take on majority foreign ownership.
The government and Labor reached a compromise in July to pass laws which allow a single foreign investor or foreign airline to hold up to a 49 per cent stake in Qantas.
Labor transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said that despite this loss Qantas was a successful company, had $3 billion in cash and a strong safety record.
“It is important for Australia that Qantas is a successful company,” Mr Albanese said.
“We want that to occur and the government should play its role in facilitating that.”
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the projected return to profit in the first half of 2015 was encouraging.
“I think their determination to reduce costs and retire debt, and that they have the capacity to retire debt, will be encouraging to their investors,” Mr Truss said.
He said there were “some substantial shocks” in the figures, but the airline had to bring to account the change in asset value of its aircraft.
“While the numbers are dramatic, the reality is Qantas is a strong company and seems to be positioning itself for a better future,” Mr Truss said.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon has asked the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to investigate whether Qantas breached its continuous disclosure requirements.
Under corporate rules, companies must publish information relevant to share prices so that all shareholders have equal access to the information.
“Qantas has admitted to me via a Senate inquiry process that it has had commercial-in-confidence briefings with institutional investors,” Senator Xenophon said.
“My question to ASIC is whether this breaches Qantas’ obligations in terms of continuous disclosure to the share market.”
Senator Xenophon described Qantas’ losses as “absolutely shocking” and questioned why chief Alan Joyce and chairman Leigh Clifford are still employed by the airline.
“Alan Joyce is to Qantas what Caligula was to the Roman Empire,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said the coalition government must share some of the blame after refusing Qantas’ pleas for a debt guarantee.
“Tony Abbott has turned his back on an airline that clearly needs assistance,” Mr Bandt said.
Asked in parliament by independent MP Bob Katter whether Qantas chief Alan Joyce should be sacked, Mr Truss said Mr Joyce was playing his part by accepting a pay freeze.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the job losses had been difficult to accept, but there was a “silver lining” for the airline.