Air New Zealand, Qantas and four other airlines are establishing an association to lobby on common causes such as airport fees, taxes and infrastructure reform.

The new association is called Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) and will be chaired by former Australian competition and consumer commission chairman Graeme Samuel. Founding members are Air New Zealand, Qantas, Regional Express (Rex), Qantas’ low-cost carrier (LCC) Jetstar, Virgin Australia and its LCC, Tigerair Australia.

In a press release, the industry group said it would be self-funded and would advocate and pursue reform on public policy issues that impact the aviation sector and broader economy in the region.

Airports, taxation and fees, access to efficient infrastructure and broader regulatory reform are cited as key issues.

A4ANZ will be governed by a board made up of a representative from each member airline. A CEO will be appointed in the coming months.

“Australia and New Zealand must compete for visitors on the world stage against many other attractive destinations. To be competitive we must continue to improve cost and quality in all parts of the travel experience, but we are constrained by a legacy of under-investment and over-recovery at key airports. A4ANZ will add its voice to that ambition,” Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce added, “Airport fees and charges continue to increase while airlines are offering fares at levels significantly cheaper than they were over a decade ago. A4ANZ’s goal is to achieve regulatory reform that will promote a competitive and sustainable airline industry in the interests of Australian and New Zealand travelers.”

Rex executive chairman Lim Kim Hai said, “A4ANZ is critical for regional communities as major airports are all too ready to sacrifice critical regional interests.”

Until 2010, Air New Zealand and Qantas were members of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), which now has 16 members, including Japan's All Nippon Airways, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

In February 2016, a new European airline lobbying group was formed—Airlines for Europe (A4E). Like A4ANZ, A4E brought together a mix of legacy carriers and LCCs. Founding members were Air France-KLM, UK-based LCC easyJet, British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group (IAG), Lufthansa and Irish LCC Ryanair. One year on, the association has grown to 14 members and the Association of European Airlines closed down after more than 60 years of operation.

Karen Walker