The boss of Virgin Australia has questioned the decision to block more domestic competition to protect Qantas' profits, saying the government hasn't been properly informed.
The Albanese government blocked extra Qatar Airways flights to Australia after lobbying from the national carrier Qantas.
Virgin boss Jayne Hrdlicka said she had sought a number of meetings with the government but hadn't heard back.
"You got the entire industry (supporting this) and Qantas is the only party objecting," she told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"We would encourage reopening this ... there wasn't enough information provided to help balance out."
Ms Hrdlicka also hit back at suggestions Qantas as the national carrier needed to be shielded by government intervention.
"They're privately owned (and) listed on the public market, they're not government-owned," she said.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce defended the government's decision to reject an application by Qatar Airways for an additional 21 services per week after the airline posted a record $2.47 billion profit.
Mr Joyce admitted the airline lobbied the government, saying it amounted to protecting Australia's national interest.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the decision made by his transport minister was "nothing unusual".
Mr Albanese said previous governments had knocked back aviation requests and that Australian airlines needed the tick from international governments and "can't fly to where they want, when they want".
"In Australia, we have the most open aviation system in the world bar none," he told ABC radio.
But he was tight-lipped about the reasoning behind the decision, with Transport Minister Catherine King only saying it was "in the national interest".
The opposition has hit out at a lack of transparency underpinning the decision.
Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham said it was not clear cut why the government denied Qatar the extra routes, with reasons ranging from the behaviour of Qatar officials and Qantas' profitability.
"It's not the government's job to automatically make Qantas profitable," he told Sky News.
Opposition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume said it was "quite confronting" that Qantas heavily lobbied the Albanese government to deny Qatar the extra flights and that it then went against departmental advice to take the national carrier's side.
"That in itself is a great concern because it means that the government is actually artificially keeping airfares high," she told Seven's Sunrise program.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie said competition was a good thing and she would like to see more Australian airlines fly domestic routes.
"I would hate to see another airline come in when we've got some of our own that are really starting to get out there and go against Qantas," she told Sky News.
Senator Hume also raised concerns about unused flight credits given to customers during the pandemic expiring at the end of the year and going straight to Qantas' bottom line.
The company revealed the value of flight credits it holds is $100 million higher than the $370 million reported and there is about $100 million in credits yet to be redeemed by Jetstar customers.
No amount was given for overseas bookings.
Virgin has around $300 million in unclaimed credits from before the pandemic and $100 million from during.
Mr Albanese said customers should have a choice about whether they receive their money back or credits after purchasing a product that is then not received.
He said Qantas needed to look after customers who had bought flights in good faith.
Australian Associated Press