Jetstar's new start-up airline in Hong Kong has parked nine planes at Airbus's main aircraft manufacturing base in southern France as it awaits regulatory approval to launch flights.
Confirmation of the exact number of planes stuck on the ground in France comes as Qantas' largest shareholder, Franklin Resources, increased its stake in the airline to 17.48 per cent, from 16.42 per cent. That figure includes a 9.94 per cent stake in the airline owned by Andrew Sisson's Balanced Equity Management.
During an at-times heated Senate inquiry on Tuesday night, Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka confirmed that its joint venture in Hong Kong had taken delivery of nine A320 aircraft but could not press them into service because of delays to the new airline gaining regulatory clearance.
Ms Hrdlicka said the planes were stored in the southern French city of Toulouse, emphasising that liability for those aircraft rested with Jetstar Hong Kong.
Jetstar Hong Kong is a joint venture between Qantas, China Eastern and a Shun Tak, a Hong Kong conglomerate controlled by the family of Macau gambling magnate Stanley Ho.
The new budget offshoot originally targeted the middle of last year to launch flights but has faced stiff opposition from Cathay Pacific while it works through the regulatory process in Hong Kong.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce emphasised to Senators on Tuesday night that it was not unusual for start up airlines to have to park planes because of the difficulty lining up aircraft deliveries with regulatory approval.
Mr Joyce said Virgin America was forced to park 15 planes on the ground while it waited for more than a year for the rights to fly domestic routes in the US.
Last month Mr Joyce put the brakes on Jetstar's aggressive expansion in Asia as losses mounted due to growing competition from incumbent airlines and new start-ups.
Stiff competition in south-east Asia stripped $29 million from Jetstar's earnings in the first half.
Qantas' senior management team were speaking before a late-night hearing of the Senate economic legislative committee, which is weighing up the impact on the aviation industry and the broader economy of a relaxation of the Qantas Sale Act. It caps foreign ownership in the airline at 49 per cent.
In response to questions from Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, Mr Joyce insisted he had the support of both the board and the shareholders despite a more than halving of Qantas' share price since he became CEO in late 2008.
Mr Joyce said Qantas' situation was due to external factors such as an environment which had allowed an over supply of seats in the market.
He also told senators that he believed more foreign investors would be interested in buying into the airline if a key section of the Qantas Sale Act was repealed. However, he said hurdles to foreign investors would remain in the form of the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Shares in Qantas rose 0.5 cents to $1.09 in early trading on Wednesday.