The federal budget will include more financial support for airlines to keep key domestic and regional routes running, after an industry slump due to the coronavirus, the deputy prime minister says.
Michael McCormack on Monday said the government will extend two programs set up to cover essential costs the airlines can’t recover due to a drop in passenger numbers.
The Domestic Aviation Network Support and the Regional Airline Network Support programs were due to end but will now be extended to January 31 and March 28 next year, respectively.
This will allow major domestic routes to be maintained and regional and remote communities to continue to receive essential air travel services.
Mr McCormack said the extensions to be announced when the 2020/21 budget to be handed down on October 6 “could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars”.
So far, more than $150 million has been spent under the programs.
“Planes in the air mean jobs on the ground and as part of our economic plan for a more secure and resilient Australia, we will continue to back our aviation sector,” said Mr McCormack who is also the transport minister and Nations leader.
“In regional Australia, flights are so central to local economies, underpinning many small businesses including tourism operators, whilst ensuring continued access to key medical supplies and personnel.”
The main airline beneficiaries of the programs are Qantas, Virgin Australia and Rex as well as other smaller carriers.