4 Mar 2014

Qantas foreign investment to change

10:59 am on 4 March 2014

The Australian Government says it will remove foreign ownership restrictions on the struggling national airline Qantas.

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Photo: AAP

At present, the Qantas Sale Act restricts foreign investment to 49 percent ensuring the airline remains majority Australian-owned, the ABC reports.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said removing the restriction would put the carrier on an equal footing with Virgin Australia, which is 24.5 percent owned by Air New Zealand.

He said there would be checks in place to ensure removing the majority foreign ownership bar would not automatically lead to an international takeover of Qantas.

The Australian Government said other regulations would still prevent more than 49 per cent of Qantas International being sold outside Australia, but Qantas's domestic operations could become majority overseas-owned.

Last week Qantas has announced a statutory after-tax loss of $A235 million for the six months to December, compared with a $109 million profit for the same period last year.

The airline also announced it was cutting the equivalent of 5000 full-time jobs - about 15% of its workforce - as part of savings measures worth more than $A2 billion.

Asked on Monday whether he was concerned that changing the legislation would see Qantas shift jobs offshore, Mr Abbott said that was a matter for the airline's management.