Qantas Airways wants meetings with the Australian Government and regulatory authorities in an attempt to block Singapore Government-controlled Singapore Airlines (SIA) from tightening its grip on Air New Zealand (ANZ).

The move follows ANZ's decision to allow Star Alliance partner SIA to raise its 25% stake while rebuffing Qantas' competing buy-in proposal. Qantas is concerned that its chief international competitor out of Australia, Ansett International, and even Ansett parent Air New Zealand, could challenge Qantas' Australia-UK service. "It would be unprecedented for the Singapore Government to control its own airline, Singapore Airlines, as well as Air New Zealand, Ansett Australia and Ansett International. This would not happen in any other part of the world," says Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon.

SIA's final stake in ANZ will ultimately be decided by the New Zealand Government, which would have to ease the cap on foreign ownership of the national airline to allow SIA to increase its stake. Australian prime minister John Howard is ready to listen to Qantas' concerns: "We'll make any decisions we¹re asked to make on the basis of Australia's national interest."

Source: Flight Daily News