The Australian Government has eased restrictions on foreign ownership in Qantas, but will retain a 49% cap on foreign investment in Australian international airlines.

Restrictions specific to Qantas that prevent a foreign airline from holding more than a 35% stake in the carrier, and foreign individuals from owning more than a 25% stake, have been removed, says the Government.

It announced this in a national aviation white paper, which outlines more than 130 policies up to 2020 and beyond.

The change to the ownership restrictions will "enable Qantas to enter into more substantial equity partnerships with foreign airlines than is currently the case," says the Government.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the move will "increase Qantas' flexibility".

"Qantas has ambitious goals for fleet, product and infrastructure renewal - and access to capital will be vital to achieving those objectives," he adds.

Australia will not lift an existing 49% cap on foreign investment in Australian international airlines for now.

"However, the Government recognises that in order to secure a comprehensive open skies agreement with a like-minded, significant trading partner, it may be necessary and in Australia's interests to consider allowing nationals of that partner an opportunity to own a greater stake in Australian international airlines, other than Qantas," it says.

Australia will consider this on a case-by-case basis, it adds.

Besides the changes affecting Qantas, the Government also plans to establish more air services agreements, strengthen safety screening procedures and work with the industry to tackle climate change, among other policies.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news