Dec 19, 2008

New entrant on the Australia-US air route

New entrant on the Australia-US air route

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

December 19 2008

I welcome today’s announcement by Delta Air Lines that it will commence direct services between Australia and the United States – a development only made possible thanks to the ‘Open Skies’ agreement successfully negotiated by the Rudd Labor Government earlier this year.

Delta proposes to operate daily return services between Los Angeles and Sydney from mid 2009, subject to regulatory approval.

By mid-2009 Australians wanting to travel to the US direct are likely to have four carriers to choose from: Qantas, United, V-Australia (commencing Feb 2009) and Delta. At present, only Qantas and United offer this service.

This much greater level of competition will be good for travellers, the local tourism industry and the national economy.

Delta’s announcement flows directly from the opportunities created by the Open Skies agreement between Australia and the US signed by the Prime Minister in March.

The Open Skies agreement removes restrictions on airlines on the US-Australia route, allowing any Australian and American airlines to operate unlimited services between the two countries and beyond.

The Open Skies agreement also reinforces the importance of Australia’s trade and economic relationship with the United States.

The United States is Australia’s third largest aviation market and I am pleased that, like V Australia, Delta Air Lines have recognised the new opportunities available under the Open Skies agreement.

In the year ending October 2008, nearly 2 million people travelled between Australia and the US – a market that has consistently grown by 5.1 per cent a year for the last five years.

The recently released Aviation Green Paper reinforces the Government’s commitment to the further liberalisation of the international aviation market as the best way to keep fares affordable as well as give both new and existing airlines the confidence to invest in additional aircraft.

Before commencing services Delta Air Lines will need to obtain regulatory approvals from Australian authorities, including meeting Australia’s stringent safety and security requirements.