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Contact: Bruce Gemmell (02) 6274 7392, Email: Bruce.Gemmell@DOTARS.gov.au


  1. Policy advice and implementation, international aviation
  2. Policy advice, aviation industry
  3. Policy advice and regulation, Federal airports - transferred to Output Class 2-Airports
  4. Policy advice, portfolio aviation authorities - part-transfer to Output Class 2-Airports
  5. Policy advice, aviation safety
  6. Policy advice and regulation, aviation security - transferred from Output Class 2-Airports

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Aviation Policy and Aviation Operations Divisions were restructured in July 1998. Their output is reported here as Output Class 1-Aviation and Output Class 2-Airports. Outputs and Planned Performance Information were also reallocated, Aviation gaining responsibility for Output 2.2 and Airports being given responsibility for Output 1.3 and part-Output 1.4.

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Aviation Division's role is to:

  • provide advice to the Commonwealth Government on international and domestic aviation issues, regulate international airline operations, and manage Australia's aviation relationships with other countries in the public interest and Australia's participation in the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO);
  • manage the continuing relationship between the Government and Australia's airlines and government authorities, particularly Airservices Australia (Airservices) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA); and
  • develop and administer aviation security standards and aviation security measures.

Some of the highlights of the year include:

  • a thorough review of the Government's International Air Services policy, leading to the announcement in June 1999 of the new 'open skies' policy approach;
  • continued expansion of opportunities for international air services through bilateral aviation consultations, and significant increases in available passenger and air freight capacity;
  • significant activity in Year 2000 compliance, including chairing the Year 2000 Aviation Committee;
  • introduction of the Damage by Aircraft Bill;
  • the on-going planning for the aviation components of the Sydney 2000 Olympics;
  • major progress on an international convention on air carriers' liability;
  • continued progress in the modernisation and international harmonisation of Australia's civil aviation regulations; and
  • the successful introduction by CASA and Airservices of new Class E airspace continued from December 1998 with its introduction to the Melbourne-Mildura and Sydney-Broken Hill corridors.

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Ministerials, Questions on Notice, Briefings, Speeches

During the year 1560 Ministerials were processed, including 658 ministerial replies, 158 Minutes to the Ministers' offices, 68 direct replies and 202 responses to requests for information.

Seventeen Questions on Notice were processed for the House of Representatives and 48 for the Senate. Thirty-one briefing requests were coordinated by the Aviation Division.

Input to aviation matters was provided for numerous speeches made by the Minister for Transport and Regional Services.

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Bilateral aviation, consultations and agreements

During the year Aviation Division held 17 bilateral aviation consultations with 15 countries. These negotiations:

  • provided new capacity, increased capacity and expanded route and traffic rights for passenger services with Austria, Chile, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Niue, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Tonga;
  • allowed the operation of unrestricted capacity, routes and frequencies for dedicated freight services with Austria, Denmark, Finland, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Niue, Samoa, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Tonga;
  • added 71 B747-equivalent units of dedicated freight capacity per week; and
  • increased total passenger capacity, for services to and from Australia by Australian and foreign international airlines, to 42.1 million seats per year (an increase of 18 per cent over seats available at the end of 1997-98). The expanded passenger capacity also increases capacity for airfreight carried in the bellyhold of passenger aircraft.

Approvals for passenger and freight timetables, charters and tariffs

During the year 274 passenger charter flights and 165 freight charter flights were approved, compared with 184 passenger charter flights and 291 freight charter flights in the previous year. The approvals included passenger programs by Airtours, Britannia, Harlequin and Canada 3000, and freight programs by Pacific Air Express and Malaysia Airlines. There are also certain categories of international charter flights for which permission is not required and for which records are not kept.

High-frequency passenger charters requested by Airtours, Canada 3000 and the Singapore Ministry of Defence increased the figure of 1997-98. The decrease in freight charters is due to the rapid rise in capacity available for scheduled services as well as the effects of the Asian economic crisis.

Four additional foreign airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lan Chile, Swissair and Pacific Air Express, were issued with licences to conduct air services to Australia, providing more choice for consumers and increased freight capacity.

The 911 permits issued during the year to airlines included approvals for timetables, variations, tariffs and cabotage dispensations.

Policy development and implementation

Government Review of International Air Services Policy

The Productivity Commission reported to the Government in September 1998 on its review of international air services. The Department provided timely advice which enabled the Government to announce its decision in June 1999 to liberalise substantially the regulation of international air services.

Under the new 'open skies' arrangements, restrictions will be removed on a reciprocal basis on capacity, frequency, routes, code share, multiple designation and tariffs for both passenger and freight services to and from Australia.

The 'open skies' arrangements represent the last stage in the progressive liberalisation of bilateral air services arrangements.

Where it is not possible to adopt the new 'open skies' regime, Australia will negotiate the most liberal bilateral arrangements possible, to take advantage of markets developed in regional Australia.

This regional package will provide Australian regional airports with the opportunity to connect more effectively with the networks of international airlines.

The Government also intends to simplify the International Air Services Commission's (IASC) processes for allocating capacity to Australian international airlines.

Air freight liberalisation

Efforts to further liberalise international air freight services to Australia continued during the year. Negotiations with bilateral partners added 71 B747-equivalent units of dedicated freight capacity available per week in air services agreements, covering all major freight markets (resulting in an increase of 122 per cent over the amount available in 1997-98). In addition, 11 freight agreements, unrestricted as to the capacity and frequency that may be operated between the parties, were negotiated during the year, taking to 16 the total number of such agreements.

Allocation of international air services rights

Amendments to the International Air Services Act 1992 to permit the IASC to allocate rights for Australian carriers to operate services between third countries (intermediate and beyond rights) came into effect in January 1999. Aviation Division developed a new Policy Statement and Ministerial Direction to give effect to the changes, which are working smoothly.

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Policy, legislative and regulatory developments

The Government is seeking to harmonise Australia's Civil Aviation Regulations with their international equivalents. New Civil Aviation Regulations 1998 (Parts 21-35) relating to the manufacture of aircraft and aircraft parts came into force in October and December 1998. These regulations represent the first phase of a new approach to civil aviation regulation to ensure that all rules are clear, concise and internationally harmonised. This first round of new regulations means that Australia's aircraft manufacturing industry is better prepared to be involved in international trade in aviation products and services than in the past.

CASA and Airservices continued the introduction of a range of new airspace arrangements into particular areas in Australia, based on ICAO classifications of airspace. Class E airspace was successfully introduced into the Canberra-Ballina corridor in February 1998 and extended to other relevant regions of Australia from December 1998. A trial of Class G airspace in the same corridor commenced on 22 October 1998 but terminated on 13 December 1998 following an investigation by the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation into air safety incidents in the corridor.

The Department subsequently participated in the review of roles and responsibilities in airspace management in Australia and provided advice in relation to recommendations of the report. The Department continued its general monitoring and advisory role throughout the development and conduct of the airspace trial arrangements.

Working groups of representatives of the Department, Airservices, CASA and the Department of Defence have been established to develop safety regulatory frameworks for the provision of air traffic control and rescue and fire-fighting services. The new standards for these provisions will be in place by mid-2000.

Air services to remote indigenous communities

The Department, using Darwin-based consultants, conducted safety inspections of remote aerodromes.

The Review of Aerodromes Serving Remote Indigenous Communities undertaken by the Department and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) concluded in June 1999. A consultant, Ove Arup and Partners (funded by ATSIC), was engaged by the Department and ATSIC to report on several key aspects of the review's terms of reference. The review report was submitted to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services and the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in July 1999.

Initial review findings confirmed the important role played by the network of aerodromes in supporting air services to remote indigenous communities. However, a more systematic national approach is needed to ensure the continuation of safe and reliable air services. A key element is to ensure that indigenous communities have equitable access to the resources necessary to maintain a strategic network of aerodromes.

The review report made specific recommendations addressing those findings.

Delivery of essential supplies to remote communities

Five air operators continued to provide essential air services to remote areas under the Remote Air Service Subsidy (RASS) Scheme, which provides subsidies to airline operators to ensure deliveries of mail and educational materials, and the carriage of general freight and passengers.

In May 1999, the Northern Territory service was downgraded to a charter operation providing for the continued transport of mail and cargo but precluding the carriage of passengers. This change highlighted the need for the review of the RASS scheme to address the appropriate standard of licence if RASS operators are expected to offer a full range of services.

The RASS review was completed in August 1999. RASS contracts were rolled over for three months from 1 July 1999 to provide an opportunity to consider the review's findings and recommendations. Two operators found to have incurred losses on RASS operations in the past year were offered increased subsidies to offset anticipated losses for the three-month period of the interim contracts.

Year 2000 compliance

In July 1998, the Department established a 'Year 2000 Aviation Committee' as part of the Government's Year 2000 National Strategy. The Committee is chaired by the Department and has representatives of the major airports and airlines, bodies representing regional airports and airlines, the Royal Australian Air Force, and relevant government agencies.

The Committee's purpose is to monitor and report on Year 2000 compliance within the aviation sector to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the government generally, and other parties, as appropriate.

The Committee has met 10 times since its inaugural meeting on 28 July 1998, and made three aviation-specific Year 2000 preparedness reports to the Minister. On 15 April 1999, the Minister outlined the activities being carried out by CASA, Airservices, the airports and airlines to ensure Year 2000 compliance. They include:

  • a major CASA industry education program that includes a Year 2000 hotline, guidance materials and a targeted newsletter, and a series of articles and guidance in industry media;
  • Airservices' comprehensive program, that aims to ensure the organisation can continue to manage air traffic in a safe and effective manner;
  • the Ansett Australia and Qantas programs, which together involve spending in excess of $200 million and incorporate subsidiary and country regional alliance partner airlines into the respective airline Year 2000 programs; and
  • the contingency and business continuity plans that are a fundamental part of each organisation's respective Year 2000 compliance program.

Damage by Aircraft Bill

A Damage by Aircraft Bill was introduced into Parliament on 3 June 1999 to replace the Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Act 1958. The Bill provides for a regime of strict and unlimited liability to apply to all aircraft coming within Commonwealth jurisdiction for any damage done to third parties on the ground during an air accident. It also revokes Australia's signature to the Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface, 1952 (the Rome Convention), which provides inadequate compensation to Australians for damage caused by foreign aircraft in Australia. The Bill passed all stages of the Parliament on 12 August 1999. Steps will now be taken to formally denounce the Rome Convention, after which the Bill will come into force.

Sydney 2000 Olympics

In May 1999 the Department revised earlier traffic forecasts for Sydney Airport during the 2000 Games. Planning is well advanced concerning arrangements for the use of alternate airports, as is an information guide for users of long-stay aircraft parking. The Department participated with other organisations, including the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG), Sydney Airport and the major airlines, in completing strategic and operations plans for Sydney Airport for the Games period.

Aviation Statistics

Aviation Statistics (AVSTATS) provides a range of qualitative analysis and statistical services in support of aviation policy review and development, bilateral air services negotiations and infrastructure planning. A guide to statistical publications and information services can be found on the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) website.

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Airservices Australia structural reform

The Government is committed to introducing competition to some of Airservices' functions. A key objective of that policy is to maintain reasonably priced tower services at general aviation and regional airports. In consultation with CASA the Department will implement a safety regulatory framework for the provision of air traffic control services by mid-2000. A similar framework is being established for rescue and fire-fighting services.

In the 1999-2000 budget the Government announced its intention to provide a further $18 million subsidy for two years to enable Airservices to maintain reasonably priced tower services at general aviation and regional airports. It will be funded by a fuel surcharge on aviation fuels of 0.51 cents per litre.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Click here to visit Civil Aviation Safety Authority website.

The Government increased duty on aviation fuel to address a shortfall in the aviation industry's contribution to the CASA. The duty on aviation gasoline (avgas) was increased by 0.467 cents per litre and on aviation turbine fuel by 0.391 cents per litre to bring the rate of duty allocated to CASA to 2.2 cents per litre.

The Department assisted CASA in the development of a new corporate plan. Further work on the plan is required, including the addition of the annual budgeted operating statements for the 1998-99 to 2000-2001 period, and to reflect Government decisions on CASA's role in relation to airspace management.

International Air Services Commission

Click here to visit International Air Services Commission website.

The Department continued to staff the secretariat that supports the IASC in its role of allocating capacity available under Australia's air services arrangements to Australian international airlines. IASC processes are likely to be streamlined during the coming year as a result of decisions flowing from Government consideration of the Productivity Commission report on international air services.

As independent statutory authorities, Airservices, CASA and the IASC provide separate annual reports, for tabling in Parliament, to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services on their operations.

New Carrier Liability Convention

Australia participated in an ICAO Diplomatic Conference in Montreal in May 1999 that developed the Montreal Convention to replace the Warsaw Convention of 1929. The new Convention regulates international air travel and air carriers' liabilities and provides for increased compensation to passengers and their families for injury, death or loss of or damage to baggage. The Convention will come into effect when it has been ratified by 30 countries. Australia is now considering whether to ratify.

Aviation Safety Agreement with the People's Republic of China Government

The Department consulted with CASA, the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in developing a model Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA). The Agreement is yet another measure to further Australia's opportunities under the Government's 'Supermarket to Asia' policy. People's Republic of China (PRC) officials were advised during May 1999 of Australia's interest in negotiating a BASA with the PRC, and that Australia would be developing a model BASA as soon as possible.

International Civil Aviation Organization

Click here to visit International Civil Aviation Organization website.

The Department represented Australia at the second meeting of the ICAO Facilitation Panel in Montreal during January 1999. This followed the first meeting early in 1997. The work of the panel focuses on improving processes for moving people and goods through airports, and, in particular, harmonising international practice. Issues examined during the second meeting included cargo processes and passenger and crewmember identity documentation.

Australia participated in the 32nd Assembly meeting and was re-elected to the ICAO Council, the governing body of the organisation comprising representatives of 33 of the Contracting States. The Assembly agreed to the establishment of a universal safety oversight audit program and considered other key issues such as environmental protection, implementation of the worldwide air navigation system, and measures to address possible Year 2000 problems.

The South Pacific Forum

During 1998-99, the Department continued to progress the Action Plan endorsed at the May 1998 Aviation Ministers' Meeting of the South Pacific Forum (SPF). The Department participated in a working group to progress a key element of the Action Plan, the development of a proposal for the cooperative management of SPF upper airspace. Detailed work on the proposal is being undertaken by consultants engaged by the International Air Transport Association at no cost to Forum States. The June 1999 Aviation Ministers' Meeting was deferred to September 1999 to allow additional time to develop the airspace proposal and other elements of the Action Plan.

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Security assessments of Airports, Airlines and Regulated Cargo Agents

The schedule of security-categorised airports was amended, which reduced the number of major airports requiring biannual assessment from 20 to 18, and of airports requiring annual assessment from 21 to 19. All 18 major airport biannual assessments and 19 other airport annual assessments were completed, as were the planned annual assessments of all international and domestic airline operators.

Security assessments were made of 178 Regulated International Cargo Agent sites, showing a generally satisfactory level of compliance with their security programs. The Department published updated Regulated Agent lists to the air cargo industry on 28 October 1998 and 18 March 1999.

Changes to the schedule of security-categorised airports also had a small impact on the number of security screening and access systems tests required throughout the year, 190 being completed.

Dissemination of information and inspections

The Department provided continual feedback to the aviation industry on relevant security standards, and on action required to improve security performance.

Substantial progress was achieved in the introduction of a checked-bag screening capability at major international Australian airports before the 2000 Olympics.

The Department issued to the aviation industry a revised National Aviation Security program.

It held three formal major industry consultation meetings with airlines, airports and relevant industry bodies during the year, and attended airport security committee meetings at categorised airports around Australia. The meetings progressed national and local aviation security issues, including passenger screening, airport access control and proposed regulatory changes.

The Department continued to distribute threat advice and intelligence summaries to security-cleared industry representatives, and increased the provision of intelligence covering the security of Australian airlines operating overseas.

Training and exercises

Fourteen training and awareness activities were conducted at eight major airport locations in Australia to the year ending 30 June 1999. Several centred on Sydney Airport in preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games, and included a major national security exercise based on an aviation theme.

Sydney 2000 Olympics

The Department continued to work with airports, airlines and relevant State and Commonwealth agencies to address aviation security matters relevant to the Sydney 2000 Games.

The Aviation Security Olympic Working Group, chaired by the Department, and including the New South Wales Police, SOCOG, Sydney Airports Corporation and other agencies, continued its liaising, advisory and coordination role. Agencies in other States holding Olympic events have recently attended the Group's meetings to keep informed of aviation security developments.

Australian National Audit Office

Click here to visit Australian National Audit Office website.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) completed a report on the Department's aviation security role during 1998-99. The report concluded that the Department had established a regulatory regime that ensures Australia's compliance with standards established by the ICAO. The ANAO report made 14 recommendations, all of which the Department will implement by 30 June 2000.

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