AFTA calls for airline scrutiny

AFTA calls for airline scrutiny
By admin

The Government has agreed to discuss ways it can more effectively scrutinise the financial position of start-up airlines following the demise of Air Australia.

Following pressure from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, tourism minister Martin Ferguson has agreed to put the matter up for discussion at the next meeting of the Tourism Access Working Group.

AFTA, along with tourism bodies, has a seat on the committee, which is chaired by Ferguson and also includes officials from Anthony Albanese’s transport ministry.

AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury raised the issue with Ferguson during a National Tourism Authority meeting in Cairns with the minister sympathetic to the concerns.

Westbury is keen for the Government to explore any oversights in the process that grants licences to airlines and enables them to operate.

He said airlines should undergo a more rigorous examination to determine the financial stability and operational integrity of the business.

Westbury argued that while travel agents are over regulated, start-up airlines appear to have a relatively easy ride.

“Martin Ferguson has agreed to put the issue up for discussion at the next working group meeting,” he told Travel Today. “We need to see what oversights are going on and see what can be done so to prevent similar problems in the future.”

Travel agents, wholesalers and a range of suppliers have been left financially damaged by the collapse of Air Australia with Westbury calling on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to unleash the full force of its powers on the carrier’s chief executive Michael James.

Westbury said he has been inundated with an “unprecedented number” of calls from retailers regarding the collapse.

The next meeting of the working group is expected to take place before the end of June.

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