The Qantas plot is beginning to feel like it was written by Samuel Beckett as another morning ticks by without the promised takeover bid or Godot.

But whenever it happens, the Qantas protection racket may have changed forever. Even an arch-roo fan like Bruce Baird is facing up to their being less interest in giving a leg up to just another corporate.

In the hiatus, the pollies so skilfully lobbied by Qantas over the years could be gainfully employed looking to Canada for an idea of what might benefit most of the people most of the time instead. The lumberjacks have announced a “blue skies” policy of liberalising air routes to and from Asia and encouraging more airlines to service the country.

The bottom line for the Canadians is the importance of their tourism industry and the development of international business – both matters riding on the availability of the best possible air services and pricing.

Singapore Airlines has been using the prospective Qantas bid as an excuse to resume lobbying for access to the Australia-US route – something that the rest of the tourism industry here wants as well.

As an example of how every dollar and deal counts, IATA estimates Gordon Brown’s tax grab wrapped in green paper last week will discourage some 600,000 passengers annually from flying by doubling the “Air Passenger Duty” (10 quid for economy short-haul, 40 for long-haul and 80 knicker for business class). Another good reason to try to stay away from Heathrow.

Peter Fray

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