Australia’s parliament has passed mutual recognition legislation that allows airlines that operate within Australia and New Zealand to have a single air operator’s certificate (AOC).

The two countries have created the AOC with Australia New Zealand Aviation (ANZA) privileges, that is recognised by the civil aviation authorities in each country, Australia’s transport minister Warren Truss says in a statement announcing the passage of the legislation through Australia’s parliament in Canberra. Ratification by New Zealand is exected within weeks.

He says “eligible airline operators will be able to use aircraft in Australia and New Zealand without the need to be issued with an AOC from both civil aviation authorities.”

“This cuts down on red tape” and by removing regulatory hurdles “delivers savings to operators”, says Truss, who suggests this new system will help Australian carriers enter the New Zealand market.

But he stresses “operators flying under ANZA AOCs will still have to comply with the laws and rules of the air applicable to the country in which they are operating.” Australia and New Zealand have different minimum cabin crew requirments and Australia permits the use of armed sky marshalls, unlike its Tasman neighbour. These issue will be reviewed in 12 months' time.

Truss says “Australia’s excellent standard of aviation safety” will be maintained and even though there are “some differences” between Australia and New Zealand’s civil aviation regulations, the safety standards in the two countries “are compliant with international requirements and achieve the same outcome.”

Truss also says the legislation includes safeguards to prevent air operators “from shopping around for a regulator of choice”.

Australia and New Zealand already have close economic ties and in 2002 the two sides signed an Open Skies agreement.