Writing as a friend, former Qantas communications head David Epstein, has given a fierce perspective on the messaging mistakes made by embattled Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce.

The article, which appears in the Financial Review, and without paywall in the Sydney Morning Herald, is recommended reading before Joyce addresses a Sydney business luncheon today and later meets with its key unions.

Here is a taste.

Anyone who believes Qantas is the victim of a concerted conspiracy of three foreign governments should be ready for a call from someone selling the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Singapore and the Emirate states are in intense competition to be global aviation hubs, while Wellington was selling down Air New Zealand shares on the day Qantas launched its latest political crusade. All encourage Qantas traffic or investment.

Qantas is not essential to the integrity of the national financial system and the 1989 pilots’ strike showed the nation wouldn’t grind to a halt if a major airline restructures. Nor is it true Qantas has unique “national carrier” obligations to provide airlift capacity in times of need. Qantas has made great contributions in the past, but its status is no different to that of Virgin Australia.

And later:

Governments don’t like special interest monstering at the best of times, but it’s even worse when they can’t be sure of what you’re really asking for other than to hamstring competitors by any means fair or foul.

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