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Sir Richard Branson has come out swinging against Qantas, saying the Australian flag-carrier is running scared of competition and likening it to a "headmaster's favourite telling on the naughty boys". Ouch!
Writing on the website of his Virgin empire this weekend, Branson congratulated Virgin Australia "for the numbers of people you carried in the last 12 months".
That's in reference to a report – quickly contested by Qantas – that the challenger airline had for the first time ever pulled ahead of Qantas in the number of passengers flown around Australia, in the 12 months to May 31 this year.
"No wonder the Chief Executive of Qantas has gone to the press saying Qantas may go bankrupt if Virgin continue to make the moves we are doing" Branson wrote.
That one's a nod to The Sydney Morning Herald revelation that "Qantas management is warning the airline could 'go under' if the state-owned Etihad is allowed to buy enough of a share of Virgin Australia to allow it to start undercutting Qantas on its profitable domestic routes."
"It’s like the headmaster's favourite telling on the naughty boys" Branson chortles.
"Perhaps we all need to stand up to Qantas and tell them that previous Governments have already tilted the playing field in their direction and that we don't like sneaks and goody-two shoes, so now they should just get on and play.
"And if they get their clothes muddy in the process they should accept that a bit of healthy competition is good for all."
Like we said earlier... ouch!
Sir Richard Branson also recommends* that you follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter @AusBT.