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Australia: China pressures ACCC to Qantas-China Eastern deal

 |  June 1, 2015

The Chinese government has urged the competition regulator to take into account wider national interests and dump its opposition to a deeper alliance between Qantas and state-owned China Eastern.

Beijing’s decision to flex its lobbying muscle adds to growing pressure on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) from government, tourism and transport bodies here to reverse its position.

The competition watchdog signalled in March that it will block the alliance because of concerns it will give the two airlines more than 80 per cent of the direct capacity between Sydney and Shanghai.

But China’s ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu, has written to the competition regulator to express his “concern about the ongoing review” of the proposed deeper alliance between Qantas and China Eastern.

In a letter to ACCC chairman Rod Sims, he urged the regulator to “bear in mind the interests of our overall relationship and make a fair and reasonable decision”.

China and Australia signed a free-trade agreement late last year, and in January agreed to triple air capacity between the two countries during the next three years.

China’s ambassador emphasised that the air market between China and Australia was growing at a rapid rate, and the deeper alliance would inject “new momentum into our aviation co-operation by meeting the growing demand for international travel”.

Full content: Australian Aviation

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