I have blogged on the case for an ‘open skies’ aviation policy for Australia. It seems that the case for one will be tesated by an inquiry launched by Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey, though details are scant. Qantas has predictably rejected the case for it and I wonder if the falling Qantas share price is an indication that the Macquarie debt-junkies looking for a quick buck from their planned private equity move on Qantas are being anticipated by the market not to appreciate the implied extra competition.
Efficiency in international and domestic aviation is a major concern to Australia given the distribution of our population over a large area, the distance of Australia to its major markets and the crucial role of internal and external tourism as economic drivers. The low travel flows within Australia on all routes other than the Melbourne-Sydney (M-S) route means internally the sorts of competition gains the US has enjoyed on its domestic routes won't be realized.
I looked at domestic fares on internal US flights during my recent trip to the US. For example, the 4 hour flight from Chicago to Los Angeles for less than $200US return can be compared to discount return tickets on the 1 hour flight from M-S of about double that. And the M-S route is a major link with huge traffic volumes.
I’ll add to this post as further information about the inquiry comes to hand.