Transport minister pushes for more Aussie seats to Italy
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says he will hold talks with his counterparts in Italy in a bid to increase the number of seats available for Australian carriers into the country.
Mr Albanese told journalists during a media briefing in Dubai on Wednesday he would meet Italy's vice-minister for transport in a bid to seek improved traffic rights for Australian flag carriers.
Under the current agreement between the two countries, Australian carriers can offer 1000 codeshare seats a week to Italy.
While Qantas currently held all 1000 seats available for services to Italy, Virgin Australia has applied to the International Air Services Commission (IASC) for half of the 600 seats that have come up for renewal.
Mr Albanese was heading to Italy with government officials to promote trade links and to invite investment on Australian transport and infrastructure projects.
Talks with his counterparts in France were also taking place to increase the number of seats available for Australian airlines to offer customers, Mr Albanese said.
The minister was in Dubai to meet with officials from the United Arab Emirates and Emirates Airlines.
Emirates and Qantas are seeking regulatory approval for a 10-year alliance that included extensive codesharing, reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and co-ordination on schedule, marketing and pricing.
Mr Albanese also toured the new Concourse A at Dubai International Airport - a purpose-built facility for Airbus A380 aircraft with 20 gates dedicated to the double-decker superjumbo - that was slated to open shortly.
The reporter trav-elled to Dubai courtesy of Emirates and Qantas.