Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah has hit back at his nemesis at Qantas over comments he made about potential government assistance for the Richard Branson-backed carrier.
Speaking to Sky News on Friday, Alan Joyce said it would be “completely unfair” for the federal government to nationalise Virgin Australia.
“It would mean that we’d be competing against the Australian government, and Qantas couldn’t do that – that would be a completely unbalanced competitive environment,” he said.
“One thing the government has to do is they can’t pick winners and losers. The government has to be fair to every company and every market in the country, so whatever aid is given to one particular company, that has to be given to everybody in that sector.
Scurrah (pictured above) has returned serve by describing Joyce’s comments as “unhelpful” and insisting that “now is not the time for rivalry”.
“This is not a game of Survivor. It’s a global pandemic creating unprecedented challenges that require unprecedented decisions,” the Virgin boss told The Australian.
“We should see people joining arms and pulling each other through this. We see that as the Australian way and that’s what we’re doing.”
Virgin has since warned that the additional COVID-19 related travel restrictions announced on Sunday by the federal and state governments will result in a “material reduction” in its domestic capacity.
While Virgin is yet to reveal details on any staff lay-offs, Qantas announced on Thursday that two-thirds of the group’s 30,000 employees will be temporarily stood down until the end of May.
Last week, the federal government announced a $715 million relief package for airlines, which involves the refunding and ongoing waiving of a range of government charges on the industry.