THE Australian government is continuing support to Australia’s aviation industry, which it describes as a vital part of the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for infrastructure and transport, Michael McCormack, said several initiatives currently supporting the aviation sector would be extended, as part of more than $1.2bn of measures assisting the industry.

“The Australian government is doing everything possible to ensure the aviation industry is sustained throughout the pandemic so that it can rebound on the other side,” Mr McCormack said.

“Australia’s aviation industry has a bright future ahead and I am confident we will rebuild throughout 2020 and beyond.

“We have kept the aviation sector going by funding minimum networks to get essential personnel and critical supplies to where they may be needed.”

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The government will work with industry to ensure Australians can access domestic air travel as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed through the following:

· Extending the Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) program to 30 September 2020, to maintain connectivity on major domestic air routes. The government will enter into new contracts with airlines to cover operating shortfalls on a minimum number of flights on key routes.

· Extending the Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program from 30 September to 31 December 2020, to ensure regional communities continue to receive essential air services. The government will continue to cover operating shortfalls for a limited number of services on regional routes flown prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition to ensuring Australians remain connected, the government will also continue to support financial relief to the aviation industry more broadly, through:

· Extending a range of measures under the $715m Australian Airline Financial Relief Package, including ongoing refunds and fee waivers for aviation fuel excise, Airservices charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges.

· Extending the $100m Regional Airlines Funding Assistance program until 31 December 2020 or until allocated funds are exhausted, whichever comes first, to support regional airlines to continue operating.

· Allowing leased federal airports to seek partial relief from land tax charges to 31 December 2020, in line with state government land tax relief arrangements.

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