The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) leadership today met with Senator Don Farrell, Special Minister of State and Minister of Trade and Tourism in Adelaide, to call for the opening up of Australian air capacity by way of a 12-24 month Open Skies Agreement.
CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine, Chair Dennis Bunnik and Vice-Chair Lisa Pagotto raised the Open Skies Agreement during far reaching discussions with the Minister, that focused on fast tracking the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.
“Our tour operator and wholesaler members are seeing their post-covid recovery curtailed by the severe lack of airline capacity and the resulting high prices being demanded by airlines.”said Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO.
Currently international airlines’ access to landing slots in Australia is governed through bi-lateral agreements between countries. A recent CAPA Aviation Conference in Adelaide advised that Australia’s international air capacity is at only 57% of pre-covid levels. This is severely restricting travel and tourism recovery. An Open Skies Agreement would allow any airline, unlimited capacity to fly into Australia.
CATO believes opening up air-capacity will provide the largest single boost to the recovery of the travel and tourism industry post-covid. It will create jobs throughout Australia, facilitate the growth of exports and help address critical labour shortages.
“The positive impacts of an open skies strategy will be felt throughout the economy.” added Jardine.
CATO represents the land supply sector of the Australian travel industry. CATO tour operators and wholesalers create, market, and deliver domestic and international travel product sold both direct to consumers and through travel agencies. CATO members enable Australians to explore the world and return home safely. Outbound international leisure travel generated an economic benefit of more than $12b per annum pre-covid, and helps to underpin international aviation capacity, an integral part of the travel and tourism ecosystem.