Steven Fitzgerald, head of asset management at HRL Morrison & Co, which manages UTA’s and the Future Fund’s investments, said Perth Airport’s board unanimously had supported the legal action taken by the airport.
Mr Fitzgerald is one of 10 directors on the airport’s board, which is chaired by former Fortescue Metals chief executive Nev Power.
The legal dispute comes as Perth Airport tries to get Qantas to move out of its T3 and T4 terminals and join other airlines at the T1 terminal on the other side of the runway. Virgin Australia and all other international airlines use T1.
Qantas is allowed to add other European destinations to its T3 terminal, such as proposed direct flights to Paris (which could start at the end of the year) and Frankfurt following the success of its Perth-London direct flight, which is now the airline’s best-performing route.
However, Perth Airport will not allow Qantas to add an Auckland-Perth-Johannesburg service unless the airline flies the route out of T1.
Qantas benefits from lower immigration and security services fees for international flights by continuing to operate out of T3 because it pays for the services to be open only a few hours a day. At T1, it would have to join other airlines in paying its share of fees to cover immigration and security services that cater for flights from 17 international carriers operating around the clock.
Passengers who fly to Perth from overseas on Qantas also have an incentive to take a Qantas domestic flight to their next destination because all the airline’s flights now operate from the same precinct and passengers do not have to transfer elsewhere.
If Qantas moved to T1, Qantas’ international passengers would be able to choose either Qantas or Virgin for their onward flights without changing terminals.
Qantas has said it will move to T1 by 2025 if it can reach a new commercial agreement with Perth Airport, but the airport is worried the dispute will lead to delays in Qantas leaving T3, which is likely to be shut down when the airline departs.
The WA government wants Qantas to move as soon as possible because it has invested billions of dollars in new rail and road links between Perth’s CBD and T1.
Perth Airport said Qantas’ letter to the commission “misrepresent[ed] the situation”.
“As legal proceedings are under way it is inappropriate to comment further except to say we are confident of the facts contained in our statement of claim lodged with the Supreme Court,” a spokesman said.
Qantas expects to file its defence to Perth Airport’s lawsuit by mid-February.