Major Australasian airlines, including Qantas and Air New Zealand, have established a new industry group to advocate on public policy issues in the aviation sector, including on taxes, fees and access to efficient infrastructure.
On Monday, a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that airlines and their passengers have paid up to $1.6 billion too much for airport access over the past decade.
The competition regulator said airports have been a textbook example of how not to privatise monopoly assets.
The Australian and New Zealand governments do not have the ability to regulate fees, as major airports are operated by commercial companies such as Sydney Airport Holdings, which is listed on the ASX.
Professor Graeme Samuel, a former ACCC chairman, will chair the group, called Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ).
Members of the group will fund the venture, including Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas, Regional Express (Rex), Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia.
“Airport fees and charges continue to increase while airlines are offering fares at levels significantly cheaper than they were over a decade ago,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“A4ANZ’s goal is to achieve regulator reform that will promote a competitive and sustainable airline industry.”
The heads of the airlines argued Australia and New Zealand must compete for visitors and, to do so, they must improve cost and quality.
Regional carrier REX said the group is critical for regional communities.
The board will be made up of a representative from each member airline, with Mr Samuel acting as independent chair. A chief executive will be appointed in the coming months.
Qantas flies 50 million passengers each year, while Virgin carries 24 million and Rex provides services for 1.2 million passengers.