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Virgin Blue Reaffirms Its Views On QF-NZ

01/05/2003

Open Letter to the Editors of the media as well as the respective regulators and governments in both Australia and New Zealand

Virgin Blue notes the articles based on the Qantas Media Release dated 29 April 2003 titled ‘Qantas to Lodge Submission on Air NZ Alliance.’


The release contained a number of statements including the comment attributed to the CEO of Qantas stating that “...just about every independent expert and commentator” supports Qantas’s views on the alliance and “Only the ACCC appears to think differently.”


It is regrettable that this suggestion is contradicted by hundreds of pages of submissions and reams of newspaper commentary from both sides of the Tasman.


Furthermore, the release went on to make the statement that “Virgin Blue has stated unequivocally that it will enter the trans-Tasman and domestic New Zealand Markets and be a significant competitor.”


Unfortunately the author of the statement chose not to highlight one of the key points of the Virgin Blue submission to the regulators – that Virgin Blue can only achieve such an outcome if Qantas and Air New Zealand are stopped from employing their most anti-competitive, low-cost products to target the routes we hope to fly.


Furthermore, we must have access to comparable facilities at competitive prices at the times of day when the public prefers to travel. Otherwise, it would be impossible to offer New Zealanders the same type of low fare competition that exists in Australia if we have no place to park the aircraft or check in passengers.


While we note Qantas and Air New Zealand’s sudden concerns for our well-being, Virgin Blue believes that the potential alliance partners could better spend time by addressing the core issues highlighted by the regulators that must be addressed if their proposal is to be allowed to move forward.


Continued posturing, legal manoeuvres and selective paraphrasing of Virgin Blue’s opinions will not address the anti-competitive issues or the needs of all travellers of Australia and New Zealand.


Instead of speculating as to what Virgin Blue needs to compete, Air New Zealand and Qantas only need to refer to Virgin Blue’s submission as well as the regulator’s draft decisions to deliver an outcome that will allow for sustainable competition.


We have clearly articulated our position that can be reviewed by anyone simply by clicking www.virginblue.com.au.


As long as Qantas and Air New Zealand are able to satisfactorily address the real anti-competitive issues we have identified, Virgin Blue has no intention of standing in the way of whatever these two traditional carriers deem necessary for their long term survival.