The Federal Government’s much-anticipated Aviation Green Paper has failed to give Australian aviation a boost, containing just a sprinkling of commitments, but flagging more reviews, panels and boards instead.
Qantas for its part has welcomed the green paper, as it reinforces the airline’s virtual monopoly over the US-Australia route, rejecting calls for Singapore Airlines (and others) to provide services. Instead, Virgin Blue’s offshoot V Australia will be the only new competitor on the route.
“One of the few competitive rights Australia does have is access to the trans-Pacific route between Australia and the United States,” the paper says. “The Australian Government has made it clear that it has no immediate plans for additional third country access to the route at this time to allow V Australia a reasonable opportunity to establish its operations. The Government has not ruled out trading such access in the future, where this is considered to be in the national interest. The maximum national benefit possible would be sought if a decision is made to trade such access in the future.”
On the other hand, the paper talks extensively about expanding international rights for the two Australian international airlines, Qantas and Jetstar. But cabotage will remain, meaning that foreign international airlines will not be allowed to carry domestic passengers.
On the cargo front, the government has re-committed itself to an open invitation to dedicated freighters. “The Australian Government proposes to continue to seek removal of limits on all cargo capacity in our bilateral agreements wherever possible to support our vital air freight export industries,” it said.
On the most contentious issue of all regarding a second airport fort Sydney, Mr Albanese has done his Gaynor electorate proud by retaining the curfew and hourly movement caps unchanged at Sydney Airport. He also shut the gate on Badgery’s Creek as an airport site, flagging the disposal of the land. This decision has prompted the Federal Opposition to issue a statement condemning the move as “Labor shops around for a Coalition electorate for a second Sydney Airport.”
Mr Albanese made no commitment to any site but gave an indication that the new airport site will be outside the Sydney basin. An official search for the site will begin once Sydney Airport’s new Master Plan is released next year.
The government’s Aviation Green Paper can be found here.