Former Qantas boss Alan Joyce could be forced to appear before upcoming Senate inquiry into rejected Qatar Airways bid | Englishheadline


The Senate inquiry into the government’s decision to block Qatar Airways’ bid for extra flights in Australia could summons former Qantas boss Alan Joyce if he refuses to appear.

An inquiry into the Qatar debacle is set to kick off next week, with Qatar’s ambassador to Australia, Saad Abdulla Al-Mahmoud, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qantas chairman Richard Goyder and CEO Vanessa Hudson, alongside a raft of regulators including the ACCC all called to give evidence.

The inquiry will also look into broader competitiveness in Australia’s aviation sector, following reports that Qantas lobbied the government to block the Qatar bid.

Minister Catherine King blocks release of Qatar documents to the Senate

The national carrier’s beleaguered ex-chief was asked to front the inquiry but is understood to currently be overseas, despite having only recently resigned as CEO of Qantas.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, also the Opposition’s spokesperson for transport, told Englishheadline Australia that the inquiry was in talks with Mr Joyce to appear.

“It is disappointing that he is not in the country at the moment given he was supposed to be the CEO of Qantas for the next few weeks,” she said.

“We are in conversation with Mr Joyce and his representatives because I am confident that he wants to assist the Senate inquiry with its matters that its seeking to investigate and be as helpful as he can.”

She added that Senate committees have the power to summons those who refuse to appear and compel information, but said she hoped the inquiry didn’t have to follow that path.

“But we are absolutely prepared to for those witnesses and invitees who don’t front up and face Senators from all sides of politics who have genuine and reasonable questions to ask about the competitive nature of our airline industry on behalf of Australian travellers,” she said.

Transport Minister Catherine King declined to comply with an order for production from the Senate for documents relating to her decision and has since gone on two weeks’ leave.

The leave was allegedly planned prior to the Senate inquiry being planned.

Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker broke his silence over the government’s controversial decision in an interview with CNN overnight, where he labelled the move “unfair”.

“We found it very unfair, our legitimate request not to be granted, especially at a time when we were so supportive of Australia [by] repatriating the stranded citizens from around the world to and out of Australia, helping them receive medical supplies and spare parts, etcetera, etcetera,” Mr Al Baker said.

Ms McKenzie appeared to agree with the Gulf carrier’s chief executive, saying Qatar’s repatriation flights in and out of Australia were “important to note”.

“I think Qatar Airways thought that they had quite a positive proposal to put to the government that the government obviously rejected, we still don’t know the reason,” she said.

“They’ve put in in excess of nine reasons rejecting that decision.

“And I thought the commentary around the assistance that Qatar Airways provided Australian travellers during the Covid lockdowns were important to note.

“I think it really vindicates the setting up of this inquiry that Qatar tried desperately to stop and there’s going to be a lot of things we need to look at.”

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