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Fri 1 Jun 2007 12:00 AM

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Oz encourages airlines to surf the air

Middle East carriers flying to Australia are being encouraged to surf the airways in order to save fuel - and the environment.

Middle East carriers flying to Australia are being encouraged to surf the airways in order to save fuel - and the environment.

During his recent visit to Dubai, Australia's former Deputy Prime Minister, Tourism Australia's chairman, Hon Tim Fischer told ATN modern-day travellers had a social conscience and Australia was therefore helping airlines cut down their carbon emissions.

"People are thinking about their carbon footprint in a big way and in this respect I have some good news. There is no need to feel guilty when you fly long haul to Australia, because we have introduced AUSOTS (Australian Organised Route Structure), which allows jets to surf the winds across the Indian Ocean in real time," he explained.

"By going a few degrees further north or south, airlines can make significant time and fuel savings. Some flights from the Middle East are already adopting this method."

Fischer was speaking during a visit to last month's ATM when the Australian Government announced further opening of the skies between the two continents.

Under new terms, both countries will be allowed a phased increase of 126 frequencies per week by 2011, up significantly from the 56 frequencies per week agreed to in March.

"This helps us achieve our objective of increasing tourism numbers," said Fischer, stressing that Australia's national carrier should not ignore opportunities in the Middle East.

"Qantas will ignore Dubai at their peril. Maybe they should look at Abu Dhabi, maybe Dubai. These are the two opportunities in practical terms. Maybe they will move more quickly when they get over their current capacity problems. After all, the Airbus A380 does have to stop somewhere between London and Sydney," he added.

In his quest to drive tourism to Australia, Fischer acknowledged visa issues for some GCC nationals and pledged to "nudge things along", given his government connections.

Fischer also conceded that the Australian Government was bogged down with red tape when it came to attracting new tourism developments such as the Emirates Hotels & Resorts' new Wolgan Valley project, which took almost four years to get the go ahead.

"We have three levels of government, which is one too many, but that's how it is. We need to attract investors and we do need to be meaningful in allowing people to get approvals and balancing that with environmental protection," he said.

"It's all about attracting six-star tourism and that's coming big time. New Zealand has gone into it already and so should we."

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