27 September 2010

An update on New Zealand domestic air passenger numbers

Since I last graphed the numbers of passengers going through the three main domestic airport hubs in New Zealand (see previous post) there have been some major announcements. First there was the announcement that Pacific Blue is to withdraw from the New Zealand domestic market with effect from 18 October 2010 (see previous post).

Then on 31 August 2010 Air New Zealand announced that it would be increasing capacity on some of its provincial services from February 2011.

Finally on 16 September 2010 it was reported by Business Day that Jetstar would be adding two A320 aircraft to its New Zealand domestic operation, also from February. Before these new changes take effect then I have done more graphs of recent monthly domestic passenger numbers and year-on-year growth rates.

26 September 2010

Australian ACCC gives an interim Yes to Etihad-Virgin Blue alliance

On 23 September 2010 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it was giving an interim approval to an alliance between Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi and Virgin Blue from Brisbane. Papers related to the authorisation are available here.

This will see Qantas severing its relationship with Etihad under which, among other routes, Etihad has been code sharing on Qantas operations between Sydney and Auckland (see 11 March 2009 announcement), and Emirates severing its relationship with Virgin Blue group's V Australia under which V Australia has been code sharing on Emirates' operations from Sydney to Auckland and Christchurch (see 16 September 2009 announcement).

ICAO Assembly to debate US proposal on mechanism to liberalise restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines

The triennial International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly is about to start in Montreal and will run from 28 September to 8 October 2010.

Of particular interest from an aeropolitical perspective will be the debate in the Economic Commission under agenda item 49 "Liberalization of international air transport services" on working paper A37-WP/190 "Facilitating airline access to international capital markets" presented by the United States. This paper also presents a draft multilateral agreement (see previous post). It will be very interesting to see whether the ICAO membership is prepared to take up this initiative and work on it.

Under the same agenda item, there is also a reference in paragraph 2.3 in working paper A37-WP/5 "Developments in international air transport regulation and liberalization" from the Council of ICAO to research carried out by the Secretariat quantifying liberalisation of international air services arrangements. However, I have not seen whether this research has been made public. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has already done comprehensive work in this area (see previous post).

Environmental issues too can be expected to be the subject of attention at this Assembly although I would not expect that member states will be prepared to take a different approach at ICAO on the issue of addressing climate change from that they take in other fora, notably the UNFCCC.

11 September 2010

Australian ACCC gives a draft No to Air New Zealand-Virgin Blue alliance

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on 10 September 2010 that it had tentatively concluded that the alliance application from Air New Zealand and the Virgin Blue group of airlines should not be approved (see previous post). The ACCC issued a 91-page draft determination explaining its reasoning.

US DoT gives a tentative No to Delta-Virgin Blue group alliance

On 8 September 2010 the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) announced a draft decision to deny the application by Delta Air Lines and the Virgin Blue group for anti-trust immunity (DOT-OST-2009-0155) and issued a 13-page Order to Show Cause (see previous post).

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had previously approved this alliance (see previous post).

08 September 2010

The German Departure Tax

Details of the German air transport departure tax (Luftverkehrsteuer or Luftverkehrsabgabe) are now available in a 1 September 2010 media release from the German Government and a legal text (both in German)(see previous post).

The tax, which will have three distance bands, is similar to the air passenger duty currently imposed in the United Kingdom.

A November 2009 study by SEO from the Netherlands of The Implications of the Irish Air Travel Tax commissioned by Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Cityjet suggests that such taxes can be counterproductive.