14 Feb 2014

No handout for Qantas - Abbott

1:51 pm on 14 February 2014

The federal government in Australia remains open to allowing majority foreign ownership of Qantas, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott won't be offering the airline a "free ride on the taxpayer".

Qantas plane tail.

Photo: RNZ

The airline says it is hamstrung by the Qantas Sale Act which caps foreign ownership of the company at 49 percent, thereby limiting its access to capital.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce admits there is little political and community appetite for changing the law, and has asked the government to consider other options such as a debt guarantee.

Mr Abbott said the laws are a shackle on Qantas and it is appropriate to unshackle the airline.

"Let's not have Qantas competing with Virgin and others with one hand tied behind its back," he told Fairfax radio on Friday.

"But I do have to say there is no free ride on the taxpayer for private companies."

AAP reports Labor is opposed to allowing majority overseas ownership of Qantas, but is open to the government providing an assistance package.