News Briefs

    Australian Government scraps life gold pass for MPs; sets up new auditing body.

    The Australian Government announced (07-Feb-2017) plans to introduce the Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill to abolish the “life gold pass”, which provided eligible former MPs entitlements for business class travel. The legislation will not affect former Prime Ministers and their spouses.

    The Government also presented the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) bill to the House of Representatives in the week of 06-Feb-2017.

    IPEA, operating as an independent body, will establish auditing and reporting functions for the work expenses of Australian MPs, including claims related to travel.


    New Zealand welcomes Qatar Airways

    Tourism New Zealand welcomed (07-Feb-2017) Qatar Airways‘ inaugural Doha-Auckland service, reiterating the route is expected to bring more than NZD50 million (USD36.5 million) in incremental tourism revenue p/a.

    Tourism NZ emphasised the route also enhances connectivity for services from Europe to New Zealand, and adds 15,000 business class seats p/a. Tourism NZ regional manager Europe Pip Casey said:

    “[European passengers] stay longer, visit more regions and are the biggest spenders of all our visitors…European visitors account for nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s total visitor spend”.


    Qatar Airways CEO critical of Air New Zealand for withdrawing from agreement

    Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker criticised Air New Zealand for withdrawing from a special prorate agreement (SPA) which would have enabled both airlines to place passengers on each other’s services at discounted rates ( Zealand Herald/, 07-Feb-2017).

    Mr Al Baker commented:

    “The national carrier would of course want to be a part of this but unfortunately, being pressured by the bigger airline partners, have withdrawn the SPA.”

    Mr Al Baker said Air New Zealand’s withdrawal from the SPA limits connectivity for New Zealand citizens to the broader international network deeming the move “very strange”.

    He further suggested the New Zealand Government should “put pressure on their national carrier” to reduce the carrier’s decisions hurting the interests of New Zealand.


    Palmerston North Airport announces new facilities off the back of record passenger numbers

    Palmerston North Airport CEO David Lanham announced the airport will be opening the expanded long-term car park space in Mar-2017, providing capacity for 110 additional vehicles (Stuff, 07-Feb-2017). This is part of a wider facility upgrade project that commenced in Jan-2016. Other improvements to come include opening a takeaway cafe in Mar-2017, a regional lounge in Apr-2017 and upgrades to the passenger drop-off zone.

    Palmerston North Airport also reported record monthly passenger numbers of 600,000 in Jan-2017, a 35% year-on-year increase (Stuff, 07-Feb-2017). CEO David Lanham stated:

    “[The] majority of capacity is to Auckland. They get a lot of that leisure traffic, in many instances because it’s a major international gateway”.

    Mr Lanham also contributed the results to a significant decrease in airfares due to competition between Jetstar and Air New Zealand.


    Townsville Mayor pushes for talks with Qantas over airport redevelopment

    Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill urged Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) to push forward discussions with Qantas in regards to Townsville Airport’s redevelopment project, stating, “Everyone needs to pull their finger out and start making this work” (Townsville Bulletin, 07-Feb-2017).

    As previously reported by CAPA – Centre for Aviation, the airport’s AUD42 million (USD31.9 million) redevelopment project cannot proceed due to stalled negotiations with Qantas over a proposed AUD3 (USD2.3) increase in passenger charges to fund the project. Qantas reportedly stated it will continue discussions with the airport authority.


    South Australia Minister criticizes cargo airport proposal

    South Australia‘s Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith criticised (04-Feb-2017) a proposal to develop a 24-hour cargo only airport at Monarto, stating “there is not enough projected deal flow to sustain a cargo-only second international airport”. Mr Hamilton-Smith added the proposal may create “investment uncertainty around Adelaide Airport” and “any future investment at Adelaide Airport will need to be put on hold until completion of his proposed AUD20 million (USD15 million) study, possibly until 2019”.


    Canberra Airport welcomes taxi expansion

    Canberra Airport welcomed (07-Feb-2017) the ACT Government’s announcement to release another 10 taxi plates which airport MD Stephen Byron believes will help reduce long taxi queues at the airport. Mr Byron explained the airport “have seen a significant increase” in incoming passengers due to “the additional services provided by Singapore Airlines, Tiger Airlines and FlyPelican, as well as growth by Qantas and Virgin Australia“.


    American Samoa welcomes ease to cabotage restrictions

    American Samoa‘s House of Representatives Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen welcomed the ‘Air Services Bill H.R. 276’ amendment to ease cabotage restrictions on foreign carriers operating in American Samoa, after a vote on 30-Jan-2017 in Washington, DC (, 08-Feb-2017).

    Coleman Radewagen said the amendment “will make the permitting process easier for those foreign air carriers who provide service in American Samoa between the islands of Tutuila and Manu’a”.

    Foreign carriers were previously required to reapply for permits every 30 days, “which in turn has discouraged other carriers from providing service on the route”.

    Ms Radewagen hopes to see more carriers commence service to American Samoa, “thereby increasing competition and reducing the cost of travel”.

    These are among the over 30 news items in relation to the Australia Pacific region published by CAPA Centre for Aviation in their Asia Pacific Airline Daily and over 400 news items covering global aviation.