| SYDNEY, March 9
SYDNEY, March 9 The biggest airlines in
Australia and New Zealand on Thursday said they had formed a new
industry advocacy group to combat rising airport fees charged by
Major airports in the two countries are owned by commercial
entities such as Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd and
Auckland International Airport Ltd, rather than being
government-owned as in the United States and parts of Europe.
The Australia and New Zealand governments do not have the
ability to regulate fees.
A report this week by the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission said price rises by Australia's major
airports had generated A$1.57 billion ($1.18 billion) in
increased revenue from airlines over the last decade.
The lobby group, which includes Qantas Airways Ltd,
Air New Zealand Ltd, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd
and Regional Express Holdings Ltd, follows the
creation of similar bodies in the United States and Europe.
The group, called Airlines for Australia and New Zealand
(A4ANZ), will be chaired by the former head of Australia's
competition regulator, Graeme Samuel.
"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.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christoper Luxon said
airlines' ability to compete was being hampered by a legacy of
under investment and over recovery at key airports.
The lobby group would also weigh into issues such as
lowering government taxes on passengers and ensuring
international market access by rivals was reciprocal, a source
familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Australian Airports Association and NZ Airports
Association, which represent their respective countries' airport
operators, were not immediately available for comment.
($1 = 1.3294 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Richard Pullin)