Malaysia govt to seek open skies agreement with Australia - minister

KUALA LUMPUR (AFX) - Malaysia is to seek an "open skies" agreement with Australia, a move which would liberalize air travel between the two countries, Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy said.

Chan said the request will be made at his next meeting with Australian counterpart Warren Truss, which he hopes will take place by the end of the year.

"We will bring it up in the next round (of meetings). If the Australian authorities need more time, we don't mind waiting," said Chan.

National carrier Malaysia Airlines currently flies to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

An open skies agreement would enable the airline to increase flight frequencies, allowing it to fly more passengers from Europe and the Middle East to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane via Kuala Lumpur, said the offical Bernama news agency.

Chan, who met with Truss a fortnight ago in Australia to discuss more landing rights for Malaysia, also said Canberra had agreed to a greater seat allocation for the country.

Malaysia currently has an allocation of 15,000 seats per week to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane -- the most popular Australian routes -- but Chan said this had to increase.

"The time has come for us to review this seat allocation as the seat factors to these four cities in Australia are always very high. We need to increase it," Chan said.

Malaysia and Australia are yet to have negotiations over what the increased allocation will be, officials said.
Malaysia has open skies agreements for passenger services with the United States, Taiwan, New Zealand, Qatar, Austria, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Lebanon.

It has open skies agreements with Germany and Holland for cargo services, said Bernama.

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