Australia and China ink landmark air agreement

Australia and China have inked a landmark air agreement that while not quite a true ‘open skies’ agreement, substantially opens air services between the two countries.


Australia and China ink landmark air agreement


Australia and China have inked a landmark air agreement that while not quite a true ‘open skies’ agreement, substantially opens air services between the two countries. The new pact, which Australia announced end-January, lets both countries’ carriers immediately add 4,000 seats a week to current caps between Australia’s major gateway cities and the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. An additional 7,000 seats will be phased in weekly over the next two years.

“Last year, 100 million Chinese travelled abroad, and this is set to double to some 200 million by 2020,” said Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb. “Tripling aviation capacity from China into Australia over the next two years will ensure we are well placed to capture this growth,” Robb said in a statement. China is Australia’s top trading partner and its most valuable tourism market, with almost 800,000 tourists spending some A$5 billion (US$4.1 billion) in the last financial year.

The air services deal also allows for the expansion of traffic rights to airlines to fly beyond the two countries by October 2016, paving the way for new routes. The pact recognises the sharp growth of emerging markets in China, allowing airlines from both countries the same increase in capacity between gateway cities besides Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.