Qantas statement on Virgin Atlantic becoming 21st carrier on the Kangaroo Route

Sydney, 28 November 2003

Qantas said today that Virgin Atlantic would become the 21st airline to offer services between the United Kingdom and Australia, following an air services agreement reached between the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

The Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Geoff Dixon, said he hoped that the positive outcome achieved in these talks would lead the United Kingdom to grant Australia the rights to operate between Shanghai and London, a route on which Virgin Atlantic operates four times each week.

"China has already given Australia the rights to fly between Shanghai and London," Mr Dixon said.

"At a time when Qantas is being denied an opportunity to compete with Virgin Atlantic over Shanghai, Virgin Atlantic has given the impression that there is little competition on the Kangaroo Route.

"In fact, the UK route is extremely competitive with around twenty airlines operating services between the United Kingdom and Australia including Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Lauda Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Thai Airways, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines, which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic.

"Qantas also competes daily with another 18 international airlines that operate on other routes to and from Australia.

"This decision highlights once again that Australia has one of the most liberal aviation environments in the world."

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3000)