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With a very large land mass and vast uninhabited areas, aviation is vital to Australia's economic and social fabric. Australia’s main international gateways are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns and the Gold Coast. The commercial aviation market is comprised of four main carriers that serve the domestic routes: national carrier Qantas Airways; Jetstar (Qantas’ LCC unit); Virgin Australia and Tigerair Australia (Virgin's LCC unit).
Australia's Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government – the key regulatory arm for national aviation – has established an open skies policy framework. The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) monitors safety and maintenance standards, while Airservices Australia is a corporatised (government-owned) air traffic controller.
Airports in Australia
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SYDNEY, 4 October, 2016 – CAPA - Centre for Aviation is pleased to announce that Sydney is set to play host to the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in 2017, the region’s largest strategic aviation and travel industry event attracting up to 1,000 of the world’s leading industry executives to Sydney.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the two-day Summit will provide a forum for strategic discussions on aviation issues across Australia and the Pacific region and showcase Sydney to the world.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) will launch services from Jakarta to Sydney in Nov-2016, resulting in new competition for rivals Garuda Indonesia and Australia’s Qantas Airways. SIA’s entrance on the Jakarta-Sydney route is a strategic move and highlights its desire to pursue new areas of growth.
The Indonesia-Australia market is a logical market for SIA as it seeks to diversify its business. Indonesia and Australia are already SIA’s two largest international markets and Garuda and Qantas are already among its biggest competitors.
Competition within Asia Pacific, including the Southeast Asia-Australia market, has been intensifying. In the current highly competitive and challenging environment airlines are constantly jockeying and exploring new options to improve their position.
Australia’s Gold Coast Airport is enjoying rapid traffic growth, driven by new and expanded international services. The airport recently started construction on a new terminal which will provide an enhanced level and service, and more widebody parking spots, to support anticipated further international growth.
Gold Coast traffic was up 8% to 6.3 million passengers in the year ending 30-Jun-2016, with international traffic up 18% to 1.05 million. Gold Coast had the fastest international growth in FY2016 among Australia’s six main international airports.
AirAsia X and Hong Kong Airlines have accounted for most of the recent growth. AirAsia X has added capacity on Kuala Lumpur-Gold Coast while launching Gold Coast-Auckland. Hong Kong Airlines launched services to Gold Coast in early 2016 and is already planning to increase capacity.
There have recently been important shifts in Virgin Australia's partnership relations, as Air New Zealand withdraws its ownership and the roles of Singapore Airlines and Etihad evolve with HNA becoming a substantial shareholder. As a consequence, Virgin is restructuring its long haul network for the first time in over two years. Individual changes are not significant, but they help tie up loose ends in Virgin's strategy. Virgin and its US JV partner Delta have been static since United and Qantas-American Airlines greatly altered the Australia-US market profile, a route which constitutes most of Virgin's long haul network.
Virgin struggled to find a use for what was essentially leftover aircraft capacity that it allocated to Sydney-Abu Dhabi as part of a JV with Etihad. With a limited fleet, North America beckoning, and Etihad seemingly losing some lustre since a Virgin-Singapore Airlines partnership, Virgin is having to cut Sydney-Abu Dhabi to free up capacity to relaunch Melbourne-Los Angeles.
Virgin will still commit to its Etihad partnership by adding three weekly Perth-Abu Dhabi flights on the A330-200, which will finally be moved out of the domestic market and deployed long haul. Since the end of the West Australian mining boom, these well equipped aircraft are no longer needed on transcontinental domestic service. Virgin's fleet of five 777-300ERs now will exclusively be used on Los Angeles.
The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.
China Airlines plans to resume Taipei-London service with the A350 by the end of 2016. The swift interest and compressed timescale may reflect the airline's new government-appointed chairman wanting to refocus the airline. The number of Taiwanese visitors to the UK has grown since China Airlines exited London in 2012, but volume is still small and one-stop competition has grown in what is mostly a leisure and price-sensitive market. China Airlines is stressing the opportunity to connect London with its growing Australian markets, but its three online Australian cities are served less than daily. Australia-London/Europe competition has also grown, so China Airlines – despite an improved product to London – will likely pick up fringe traffic. There are stronger opportunities for the relatively sleepy airline in the dynamic and booming Northeast Asia.
China Airlines will become the last major Asian flag airline at London Heathrow following the previous entry of Garuda, Philippine Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Only Mongolia's MIAT is absent. 12 Asian airlines fly long haul but do not serve London. Besides MIAT and Hong Kong Airlines, the only Asian airlines not in London are Mainland Chinese airlines or long haul LCCs.