20 September 2009

Classic aeropolitics from the Australian archives

In the late 1970s Australia, with its International Civil Aviation Policy (ICAP), tried to reduce the share of the Australia-Europe market being taken by sixth freedom carrier Singapore Airlines by declining to allow it to match the cheapest tariffs for air travel on the route. The response was a heated dispute between Australia and ASEAN.

The National Archives of Australia has released a key 1978 Australian Cabinet paper from that time. It provides a classic case study in aeropolitics.

The 3 March 1979 issue of Flight International carried a report of what happened. Related documents from ASEAN, such as a record of a special meeting of Economics Ministers held on 22 February 1979 held in response to ICAP, a press release following that meeting which alludes to "retaliatory measures", and a joint press release on a ministerial-level meeting held between ASEAN and Australia on 20-21 March 1979, are also now available on the web.

Today Australia still takes what some might describe as a protectionist approach to international air services having very few "open skies" agreements and declining to grant fifth freedom access for Singaporean and Canadian airlines to the Australia-Mainland USA market while V Australia establishes itself.

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