On 8 March 2011 the Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport announced that Australia had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on air services with China expanding passenger seat capacity and route opportunities for the international airlines of the two countries. Australia continues to seek an "open skies" agreement with China.
On 23 March 2011 HM Treasury released with the UK's Budget a consultation document on reform of the air passenger duty. The key element of this is presenting options for alternative band structures (see previous post). It was also conceded that a switch to a per plane duty would be contrary to international law.
On 29 October 2010 Air Transport World reported that the European Commission (EC) had announced that it was initiating court action against European Union (EU) member states France, Germany, Austria and Finland over their air services arrangements with Russia that see their airlines paying overflight fees.
Note that these fees are not for air traffic control services. A 28 October 2010 report in the Journal of Commerce provides an estimate of the total fees paid by EU airlines, mostly to Aeroflot.
On 28 January 2011 Bloomberg reported that the EC was looking to take action against seven additional member states.
On 14 March 2011 the European Commission released a press release that gives background and another press release advising that it was taking action against six further member states.
I have been trying to disentangle the progress being made by the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) towards an ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASAM) by 2015 and related engagement with dialogue partners. What follows are some key source documents.
On 11 November 2010 in Brunei ASEAN Transport Ministers jointly announced progress towards "open skies".
Australia has funded two major research projects through the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP) focusing on the ASEAN air transport market that also provide useful background on other regional efforts around the world:
As reported by The China Post on 9 May 2010 Indonesia does not seem to have bought into the 2015 deadline for ASAM. This is reflected in its lack of ratifications by some member states to the key ASEAN air transport agreements.
In an earlier post I noted that progress was being made towards an ASEAN agreement with China. The Air Transport Agreement (Protocol 1) was announced in Brunei on 12 November 2010. The Agreement is limited to an exchange of third/fourth freedom rights with officials to pursue an exchange of fifth freedom rights. However, given the size of the two air transport markets and their expected rapid growth in coming decades this may turn out to be the beginnings of one of the major global moves towards air transport liberalisation, akin to the economic deregulation of the air transport markets within the United States and the European Union.
India too has been working towards a closer air services relationship with ASEAN announcing on 7 November 2008 an aviation cooperation framework.
I am still looking for a good write up of what has been happening within ASEAN but see some parallels in the staged approach to the deregulation of the air transport market adopted by the European Union and the Pacific Islands.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on 18 March 2011 that President Aquino of the Philippines had signed two Executive Orders, EO28 and EO29 (both are dated 14 March 2011), changing responsibilities for negotiating new air services agreements and subsequent amendments, and adopting an open skies policy with respect to all international airports except that at Manila (NAIA)(see previous post).
In a speech on 26 January 2011 the New Zealand Prime Minister announced that the Government was scoping the option of selling down its shareholding in Air New Zealand while still maintaining a majority of the equity.
On 28 January 2011 the Finance and State-Owned Enterprises Ministers released advice from the Treasury on the issue.
On 31 January 2011 UAE Interact announced that France and the United Arab Emirates had agreed to an over 60% increases in the frequency of flights permitted between the two countries and the addition of Bordeaux as a destination point in France for airlines from the UAE.
Airlines from the UAE have very large aircraft orders from Airbus.
On 17 January 2011 Tokyo Tomo carried a report that at negotiations held on 21-22 December 2010 Japan and South Korea had reached an "open skies" agreement. Excluded, however, is access to Haneda where airport slots remain tightly constrained.
Air New Zealand was subsequently required to sell down a small proportion of its new shareholding in Virgin Blue to ensure that the 49% cap on foreign owneership was not exceeded.
It is notable that Air New Zealand says that it is not seeking a seat on the Virgin Blue board. Although the two airlines are entering into a trans-Tasman alliance (see previous post) they will still be competing on services to some South Pacific islands.
A 17 December 2011 story from AFP carried by channelnewsasia.com reported that Japan was giving priority to negotiating "open skies" agreements with South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. Interesting is Japan's new willingness to cover access to Narita (NRT) in these agreements.
On 11 March 2011 at ITB in Berlin the South African Minister of Tourism released a Communique supported by his country, Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Singapore and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation criticising the impact that "unilateral, discriminatory" European aviation taxes are having on long-haul destinations. The Communique received little media coverage but points to concern from a wide range of Commonwealth countries.
This follows taxation changes made by the United Kingdom (see previous post), Germany (see previous post) and Austria (see previous post).
There are very few disputes between the United Kingdom and Australasia but this seems to be one of them. The UK's 2011 Budget due to be released on 23 March 2011 may be worth watching for any movement on this issue.