There’s good news for Australian domestic airlines, as the $250 million government program started in April, and intended to maintain air connections during the COVID-19 crisis, has been extended into 2021.
The federal government announced it is extending its Domestic Aviation Network Support program, which was set to expire on Wednesday this week, and its regional equivalent, which was to expire 31 December.
Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Regional Express will now be able to claim back any losses they incur on:
- Domestic flights until the end of January 2021
- Regional flights until the end of March 2021
The support scheme is designed to encourage airlines to maintain routes that would otherwise be cancelled due to low passenger numbers.
“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,”
Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
With a bit of luck, the recently announced extension will assist the struggling tourism sector get back on its feet, as domestic borders begin to reopen.
Though if recent demand from last weeks Jetstar and Virgin Australia’s sales fares were anything to go by, filling seats shouldn’t be a problem.
What does this mean for the airlines?
This extension means that Qantas, Virgin, and REX will be able to claim back money on loss-making flights, which could equate to millions of dollars – depending on how many flights the airlines operate and the demand for those departures.
The domestic scheme offsets flights on Australia’s 50 busiest routes while the regional scheme covers 114 routes between 111 regional and remote locations.
ATIC welcomes the recovery efforts
The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) has said they back the holistic $150 million in new federal tourism commitments including a laser focus on regional tourism infrastructure and regions gravely impacted by the national border closure.
ATIC Executive Director Simon Westaway said a new $50m federal funding package for 9 international reliant regions would also genuinely support and more likely better sustain and future proof iconic tourism product.
“ATIC will work proactively with federal officials to outline how we believe this new funding can be more effectively spread across the nine international tourism reliant regions of need.”
Simon Westaway, ATIC Executive Director
“ATIC has repeatedly called for our compelling and captivating regional tourism product to be enabled to sustainably grow for the future. These new Federal programs can contribute to this,” he continued.
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