Aussie airlines will get extra help from taxpayers ahead of the Christmas period to help keep people connected, the federal government has announced.
The government is extending its Domestic Aviation Network Support program for another eight weeks until March 2021, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack revealed.
“Domestic border restrictions have largely been removed and this is enabling more free-flowing domestic travel over the summer holidays and beyond,” Mr McCormack said.
The program was launched in April to help Qantas and Virgin operate a domestic network to serve critical metropolitan and regional routes in Australia.
The initial announcement pledged funding of $165 million following the announcement earlier this yea to support the industry during the coronavirus pandemic, but any further costing is yet to be released.
“The government is focused on keeping Australians connected and facilitating freight movements as aviation emerges from the COVID‑19 pandemic,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
Domestic passenger levels fell from 5.35 million in January to 344,100 in April and stayed low due to border closures, he said.
A 50 per cent waiver for domestic air service charges for transport and aeromedical flights has been extended to run from January 2021 to March to help operators manage costs.
An expert panel will also consult with the industry on the future of the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.
“Managing the challenges to aviation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will require industry, regulators, governments and the community to work together,” Mr McCormack said.’
All Australian state borders are expected to be open by Christmas Day.