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Qantas warns against allowing foreign carriers to fly domestic routes

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Qantas has told a parliamentary committee that overseas carriers should not be allowed to operate on domestic routes in Australia.

The senate’s red tape committee is looking at cabotage — the practice of providing access to domestic transport markets by foreign operators.

Qantas has warned against allowing foreign carriers to fly domestic routes in Australia. Qantas has warned against allowing foreign carriers to fly domestic routes in Australia. 

Most of the submissions focus on coastal shipping, with the committee’s inquiry running parallel to the government’s release of a discussion paper on coastal shipping reform.

Qantas took the opportunity to slap down any suggestion that domestic aviation should be opened up to foreign-based rivals.

The idea was canvassed in 2015 on northern routes.

A submission signed by Qantas group executive Andrew Parker says cabotage would have substantial economic, employment and operational risks.

Mr Parker warns cabotage would undermine Australia’s position in future air services negotiations.

“Put simply, this would be a disastrous trade negotiation strategy and deny Australian airlines a clear measure of certainty around which they can base long-term investment planning,” he says.

Qantas also warns of safety risks flowing from airlines “operating in lower-cost safety regimes with different standards” and potential job losses.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development submission says the government is working to increase global liberalisation while protecting the national interest.

The department says cabotage can be considered under existing policy in exceptional cases, such as on routes not serviced by Australian airlines.

It acknowledges foreign carriers operate under their home country’s safety regulations.

“The current policy of generally reserving the Australian domestic market for Australian-based airlines ensures domestic airlines all operate on the same level playing field in relation to industrial relations and taxation, as well as the safety and security oversight of the Australian government,” the submission says.

The committee chaired by Senator David Leyonhjelm is looking at the effect of red tape on the economy and the community.

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