Qantas should never be sold overseas, says Palmer United Party’s Clive Palmer, all but closing the door on the government’s plans to end restrictions.

Businessman MP Clive Palmer has dealt a crushing blow to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hopes of ending Qantas’ foreign ownership restrictions.

The leader of the Palmer United Party – which could control the balance of power in the next Senate – says the national carrier should never be sold to foreign investors.

“Qantas is a part of Australia’s heritage as a vital service to rural Queensland and the Northern Territory,” Mr Palmer told Fairfax on Saturday.

“Sales like these are nothing but quick fixes and are simply the palming away of responsibility.”

Mr Abbott said on Friday he wished to unshackle Qantas from foreign ownership rules, introduced when Labor sold the airline in the 1990s, which cap foreign ownership of the company at 49 per cent, thereby limiting its access to capital.

“Let’s not have Qantas competing with Virgin and others with one hand tied behind its back,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax radio on Friday.