The Courier-Mail

Virgin chief slams open skies plans

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VIRGIN Australia chief John Borghetti has rubbished a Federal Government plan to allow foreign airlines to fly domestic routes in the nation’s north, saying it will not work.

The Government is believed to be considerin­g a socalled “open skies” plan to open routes in northern Australia to foreign carriers to increase competitio­n, to bring down prices and stimulate regional and remote economies.

But Mr Borghetti said the proposal would put Australia at odds with the rest of the world and could force Virgin and Qantas to ditch routes to smaller cities and towns.

“No other country does this and there’s a reason for that because it decimates local industry and, long term, is unsustaina­ble,” he said. “If it does happen it will put great pressure on us and we’ll have to review where we are flying.”

It was doubtful overseas carriers would use aircraft designed for internatio­nal routes, such as 747s, to “secondary destinatio­ns”, such as Broome or Townsville, he said, speaking at the Annual Stockbroke­rs Conference in Sydney.

Mr Borghetti said foreign carriers would be much quicker to pull out of routes once they became uneconomic­al.

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