Singapore Airlines' long-held ambition to fly the Australia-US route will have to wait a little longer, as the Australian Government moves to extend protection of access to the route.
Releasing the government's draft National Aviation Policy Statement (Green Paper), Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, stated the government would defend its position to leverage its 'few competitive traffic rights', including the trans-Pacific route. The Green Paper stated, "the Australian government has made it clear that it has no immediate plans for additional third country access to the route at this time to allow V Australia reasonable opportunity to establish its operations".
The government has not ruled out "trading such access in the future", assuming that it fulfils the national interest.
Virgin Blue welcomed the Green Paper, stating it was "particularly pleased" that the government "reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the national interest by recognising that Australian airlines compete in an international aviation environment where not all countries are subject to the same rules".
CEO, Brett Godfrey, stated, "for the Government to openly and frankly acknowledge Australian airlines are often required to operate on a playing field heavily slanted by foreign government ownership, subsidies and other forms of industry assistance is reassuring, as Australian airlines have long presented this view".
He added, "our new international airline V Australia, will deliver to international long-haul air travellers what Virgin Blue did for domestic air travellers when we launched eight years ago - true and sustainable competition and value-for-money, while not compromising safety or product quality."
Singapore Airlines spokesman, Stephen Forshaw, stated the policy would continue to deprive travellers of the benefits of competition, "namely choice, cheaper fares and better service". Mr Forshaw added, "we have no intention of giving up our quest".