Australia, China step up cooperation in air transport

08:35, March 10, 2011      

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The growing ties between Australia and China were reflected in a new memorandum of understanding that will double the number of available flights between the two countries.

The new agreement, providing a massive boost in airline seat numbers signed by China and Australia, represents a 50 percent rise in available seats on direct flights between the two countries from the current 14,500 per week to 22,500 per week by 2012.

Local media quoted on Wednesday Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese as saying that the airlines of both nations would now be able to offer up to 18,500 seats on flights between Australia's major airports and China's each week.

The deal includes an offer of additional capacity within Australia to China's carriers if they include stopovers in regional destinations including Cairns, Darwin and Broome.

In a boon for local Australian carriers now serving China is that the agreement would allow them to fly beyond China to four additional destinations of their own choice, adding much needed scope to the current networks.

Albanese said more than 1.7 million people traveled between Australia and China last year, an increase of over 20 percent on the previous year.

Chinese tourism is worth 3.1 billion U.S dollars to the Australian economy and the number of Chinese sightseers heading to Australia is expected to double by 2020.

In a statement released late Tuesday, the Australian government lauded the agreement and its importance to cross-border ties.

"Significantly, our new MOU with China contains a shared commitment to negotiating an 'open skies' agreement, an outcome that would remove most -- if not all -- of the limitations on Australian and Chinese airlines operating between and beyond our two countries."

The agreement is a victory for the Australian travel industry, most particularly the regionally isolated air-carriers, looking for a further toe-hold into Europe and North America.

As new traffic treaties take effect between Australia and the EU and UK, and most of them are due for renewal sooner rather than later, this raises the possibility of Qantas choosing to offer flights between Shanghai and London, Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt, which is something of considerable strategic importance as the Chinese market and Australia's connections to it continue to grow.

China's key position and rapid assumption of global leadership of the air travel market is changing the balance of air-traffic flow with the Asia-Pacific now recognized as the future growth market.

Chris Emerson, Senior Vice-President Product Strategy and Market Forecast for Airbus, expected Asia-Pacific airlines to take delivery of around 8,560 new aircraft over the next 20 years.

"Valued at 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars, the requirement represents 33 percent of new aircraft deliveries worldwide over the forecast period, with the region overtaking North America and Europe as the largest air transport market," he said.
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Source: Xinhua


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