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'Half-Price Flights Here This Year': $1.2b Tourism Rescue Package Announced

The Morrison government has unveiled a $1.2 billion aviation and tourism rescue package which will provide an estimated 800,000 half-price airfares for key areas to help more Australians 'Holiday Here This Year'.

The Morrison government has unveiled a $1.2 billion aviation and tourism rescue package which will provide an estimated 800,000 half-price airfares for key areas to help more Australians ‘Holiday Here This Year’.

Half-price return flights to more than a dozen regional tourism destinations will be offered across Australia to help save two industries devastated by COVID-19.

The Morrison government has unveiled its $1.2 billion tourism and aviation rescue package designed to ease the pain when JobKeeper wage subsidies end this month.

An estimated 800,000 government-subsidised tickets will be offered over the scheme’s duration which includes the Easter and winter school holidays

Tickets will go on sale from April 1 with return interstate flights to eligible locations receiving a 50 per cent discount until July 31 and you must travel by September 2021.

Initially, the government has listed Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region including Proserpine and Hamilton Island and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Lasseter and Alice Springs in the NT, the Tasmanian towns of Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome in WA, Avalon near Melbourne, Merimbula in NSW and SA’s Kangaroo Island are also included.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the airfares would help Australians support tourism operators, businesses, travel agents and airlines doing it tough during the pandemic.

“This is our ticket to recovery,” he said on Thursday.

“This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard.”

Qantas, Virgin and a handful of smaller regional carriers will be the main beneficiaries, with airlines that have operated on the routes for the past two years eligible.

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said this and other government measures announced on Thursday were “smart” and well-targeted and would deliver an economic boost.

“To be in the position where we can safely encourage and promote domestic travel puts us at the envy of the rest of the world,” she said in a statement.

Virgin is currently operating at 50 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity but now expects this to ramp up to 70 per cent by Easter.

The revamped Virgin Australia Lounge in Adelaide
The revamped Virgin Australia Lounge in Adelaide

Business loans of up to 10 years with a two-year principal and interest repayment holiday will be available between April and the end of the year for small and medium firms that graduated from JobKeeper this year.

The maximum loan will be increased from $1 million to $5 million and businesses with a turnover of $250 million will be eligible.

Mr Morrison said the measures would mean more jobs and investment as the nation heads towards winning the fight against coronavirus.

“Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back,” he said.

The package also includes support to keep 8600 international aviation workers employed between April and the end of October, the earliest chance for flights overseas to resume.

In return, airlines will need to assure the government every month that aircraft will be ready to take off when needed.

Airport security charges and other domestic flight operations charges will continue to be waived, while support will be extended for air freight exports.

The government will continue payments to zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks for six months and business events for three months.

What about travel agents?

As stated by Scott Morrison this morning on Sunrise, “There’s further support for the travel agents today,”

While details are still to be clarified, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan has confirmed that a further $128 million will be available to assist the travel industry due to the ongoing closure of Australia’s international borders.

It’s Karryon’s understanding that more details will be announced tomorrow, Friday 12 March with further support grants and interest-free loans expected.

According to a statement released by the Council of Australian Tour Operators today: “As the overall support package is very involved and covers multiple sectors, the government are using today to focus on the aviation and loans component.”

Source: AAP