Mark McGowan says he and Qantas boss Alan Joyce have “kissed and made up” after repeatedly clashing over West Australia’s Covid-induced hard border.
The pair appeared alongside each other at a press conference in Perth on Friday to announce direct flights from Perth to Johannesburg and Jakarta and that they had rekindled their friendship.
“Alan and I have kissed and made up,” the WA Premier told reporters.
His assessment of the relationship caused both men to crack up, with the Qantas boss interjecting: “We have.”
“The hatchet’s so far buried, we can’t even find it,” Mr McGowan added.
The two men have traded numerous barbs over the past two years due to the WA Premier’s handling of the state’s hard border.
It led to Mr Joyce suggesting the state was Australia’s own North Korea, given it had locked itself off from the rest of the country.
At the time, Mr McGowan said he thought the comparison was over the top.
But he was more than happy to crack a couple of jokes about it at Mr Joyce’s expense on Friday.
“We did actually have a discussion about North Korea. I was sort of saying how Alan’s glasses and hairstyle is very similar to Kim Jong-un,” Mr McGowan laughed.
“And I said … we were going to eat at a Korean restaurant,” Mr Joyce added.
He made it clear he wanted to let bygones be bygones and move on from the era of Covid conflict.
“The hatchet, as the Premier said, is well and truly buried. I actually think Mark is one of the best politicians easily in the country at the moment and he’s done a fantastic job here,” he said.
But Mr Joyce warned that everything wasn’t all rosy for the Flying Kangaroo, as Qantas and Jetstar had cut capacity by 10 per cent due to rising oil prices.
Mr Joyce warned passengers to get used to higher ticket prices and more crowded planes as a result.
“Our fuel bill’s just gone through the roof, so that has to be controlled in terms of the affairs and the economics of the business,” he said.
“The way to do that you should cross back on capacity. … you sell more of the seats, that’s more efficient, and airfares go up. That’s the reality.”
Problems around delayed and cancelled flights and missing baggage have been blamed on Covid-19-induced staffing and supply chain issues.
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