Qantas looks set to renew its push to lift a government-imposed limit on foreign ownership and drawing the dots between new long-range jets from Airbus or Boeing with the need for deep-pocketed overseas investors.
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford says the Qantas Sale Act, which caps foreign ownership at 49% of shares, also limits the airline's ability to raise capital ahead for big-ticket projects such as eventually replacing the Airbus A380s.
"We haven't got a particular need at the moment, but at some stage we’re going to have to dramatically renew the fleet," Clifford told Fairfax Media.
"At some stage we’re going to have to replace the [Airbus] 380s ... and [CEO] Alan [Joyce] has talked of the challenge we’ve put out to Airbus and Boeing for long-range aircraft. Well, these don’t come cheaply."
The list price for the Boeing 777-8 jet averages around A$470 million, with the Airbus A350-900 listed from A$395 million, although airlines typically receive discounts of at least 40% on the showroom sticker.
Qantas is weighing up both jets to launch non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to New York and London.
Qantas previously lobbied for changes to the Qantas Sale Act in 2014 as the airline faced brutal losses of around $250 million and was being challenged by Virgin Australia, which is not constrained by similar foreign ownership restrictions and is now almost 90% foreign-owned.