Good news for Australian tourism with the Rudd government in a battle to improve regional travel by refurbishing local airports facilities, and making the destinations more attractive for airlines.
Under a new policy set to be included in next week’s aviation bill, airlines that stop off at regional international airports such as Cairns, Darwin and Broome will be able to have additional flights to the major gateways without being counted against their capacity entitlements.
What it basically means, is that the government is aiming at allowing regional airports to offer international flights to neighbouring countries such as New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia.
Under current bilateral air services agreements, capacity into Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne is restricted but airlines may fly as many times as they want to other international destinations within Australia.
But, regional airports have trouble attracting carriers because they often do not have big enough markets to cater for, and sustain, long distance services.
The new policy would allow a foreign carrier that had reached its entitlement in Sydney to add flights to the NSW capital with services through Darwin, or Broome, or even Cairns.
Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, said the move was all about increasing consumer airport potential.
“This is about improving the commercial potential of services to Australia’s regional airports and encouraging tourism and investment in regional economies,” he said.
There are, however, sceptical critics who feel that even with the changes, very little impact will be felt on the economy, and in the industry.