Australia misses chance to open up the Pacific

It has taken a while coming, but the Australian Government’s decision not to allow Singapore Airlines (SIA) the chance to operate services between Australia and the USA is certainly not a major step forward in freeing up air markets in this still restrictive industry.

The decision is a relief for Qantas and a blow to SIA. In a statement SIA said: “Today’s decision from the Australian Cabinet to not lift protection of Qantas on the AustraliaUS route is a disappointment in the long journey to opening the aviation market to more competition. It is a sign that free trade principles, open market competition and consumer choice have again been sacrificed to protect sectional interests.”

In what is being seen in Australia as a big victory for the country’s flag carrier, Transport Minister Warren Truss held out little hope of a change in heart from his government as he rejected SIA’s pleas. ”If access is negotiated in the future, it will be limited and phased and we would not envisage Singapore Airlines operating on the route for some years,” he stated.

Truss then became one of the latest to advocate a potential link-up between the two rivals: “The Australian Government believes that future mergers between major players in the international aviation industry are inevitable and considers that the Boards of Qantas and Singapore Airlines should consider the strategic advantage gained from such an alliance in our region.”

Surely this is a business decision for the two carriers and not something a government should be meddling in.

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