Qantas Boss Joyce Says Rival’s Insolvency Claim ‘Baseless’

A war of words has erupted between Qantas boss Alan Joyce and Regional Express (Rex) deputy chairman John Sharp as the two airlines battle over a domestic air travel market recovering quickly from the pandemic, the Australian Financial Review reported. While Mr. Sharp earlier this week argued Qantas might be “technically insolvent”, Mr. Joyce has now questioned whether the former federal transport minister misled the market over the carrier’s financial health. Decrying his rival’s claims as “baseless” and “outlandish”, Mr Joyce said Rex had presided over a disastrous launch of its new flights servicing the lucrative interstate capital city market. Rex is looking to take on Qantas and Virgin in the lucrative 'golden triangle' routes between Australia's three biggest cities. “They have presided over the worst launch of a new jet airline in Australia’s aviation history, with empty aircraft and announced routes never flown,” Mr Joyce said. “The frequency with which Rex makes baseless criticisms of Qantas points to it being a key part of their strategy … There are now so many ridiculous claims from Mr Sharp and Rex, we have started a new page on our website to debunk them,” he said. Sharp had taken issue with a statement a week prior, when Mr. Joyce said, “When Qantas plays its best game, it always wins.” Mr. Sharp instead argued that Rex had outperformed Qantas on a return-on-revenue basis and claimed the national carrier was in a precarious position given its level of borrowings versus its cash on hand. Qantas had $2.6 billion of cash as of December 31, with another $1.6 billion of loan facilities it could call on if needed to service the $7.3 billion of liabilities due within the next year or so. Just $922 million of this is debt, with the rest a mix of supplier payments and lease obligations. Read more.