Qantas boss Alan Joyce has warned an Australian parliamentary hearing that proposed legislative changes are a major threat to the airline's future.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon has introduced draft laws that require Qantas to maintain its principal operation centre in Australia as well as the majority of its heavy maintenance of aircraft, flight operations and training.

Mr Joyce delivered a blunt message to senators when he appeared for the fourth time before an upper house inquiry hearing in Canberra today: "We must adapt or die.''

He described Senator Xenophon's legislation as "misguided''.


"We have grave fears for the future of Qantas if these legislative proposals come into effect,'' he said.

The legislation would constitute "a major threat'' to the airline's business, Australian jobs and to investment and growth.

Mr Joyce said Senator Xenophon's proposed amendments to the Qantas Sale Act went way beyond its original aim which was to limit majority ownership of the airline to Australian shareholders.

"It would strangle our capacity to run our business,'' he said.