Australia and Japan ink open skies agreement

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Australia and Japan have signed an open skies agreement that paves the way for the removal of all restrictions on air services between the two countries.

Under the agreement, airlines from both countries will be able to offer daily flights between Australia and Tokyo's Haneda airport, said Australia's ministry for transport and infrastructure in a statement.

All capacity restrictions between Australian and Japanese airports will be lifted, except for those at Tokyo's Narita airport that will go only from 2013.

Australian airlines will also get fifth freedom rights to fly beyond Japan to third countries, including markets such as China and Europe.

"This is a breakthrough agreement which will have significant economic benefits for Australia," said Anthony Albanese, Australia's transport minister, in the statement

"More than one million people fly between Australia and Japan each year with more than Australian dollar (A$) 3 billion ($2.9 billion) worth of cargo transported between the two countries.

The agreement would allow passenger numbers to grow by 25% by 2020, said the ministry.