Qantas Welcomes Virgin Atlantic as 21st Carrier Between the United Kingdom and Australia

SYDNEY, 17 July 2003

Qantas today welcomed the announcement from Sir Richard Branson that Virgin Atlantic would become the 21st airline to offer services between the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Chief Financial Officer of Qantas, Peter Gregg, said Sir Richard and some others seemed to be under the impression that Virgin Atlantic would only be competing against British Airways, Qantas and Lauda Air.

"In fact, they will also be competing against another 17 airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines, United Airlines, Air New Zealand and, of course, Singapore Airlines which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic.

"Qantas competes with all these airlines on a daily basis."

Mr Gregg said he would be very interested if Virgin Atlantic managed to obtain rights to fly to Australia via Hong Kong because, despite trying for many years, Qantas had been unable to obtain the rights to fly between the United Kingdom and Australia via Hong Kong.

Mr Gregg also noted that Sir Richard was reported as saying that British Airways and Qantas owned shares in each other.

"This is also incorrect. While British Airways owns 18.75 per cent of Qantas, Qantas owns no shares in British Airways."

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (2933)