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SYDNEY An Australian regulatory panel on Tuesday rejected a proposed alliance between Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand, saying the partnership would raise air fares and would not serve the public interest. Rival airlines, industry analysts and air freight companies had criticized the plan, saying it would stifle competition.
“The proposed alliance would be highly anticompetitive and offer little benefit to the Australian public,” said Graeme Samuel, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission`s chairman. Samuel said the plan would have led to an increase in air fares and a decrease in the number of seats available on routes between Australia and New Zealand. The Australian regulator and its counterpart in New Zealand, both rejected the merger in draft rulings in April.