Australian regional airlines hold onto lifeline

By April 9, 2020 General News

The Australian government has offered a “lifeline” to the country’s regional airlines with a suspected aviation aid package of AUS$1 billion.

This support will allow airlines such as Regional Express (Rex) to continue operations despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, unions and ground-handling companies have stated that they are receiving little aid which has failed to support its workers.

Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack has announced that an $198 million Regional Air Network Assistance package aims to maintain critical air services throughout regional Australia by securing operations to certain routes. The funding will focus on safety-related costs, regulatory compliance and support “minimum operational capability.”

A further $100 million has been provided for smaller regional airlines to continue operations. Airlines including aero-medical and service providers will potentially be eligible for monthly assistance until 30 September.

McCormack further stated that the package will: “provide vital financial support for airlines servicing regional and remote locations”, allowing core routes for domestic air freight to remain functional and essential workers to remain employed.

With the reduction of about 80% of flying activity, many flight crew and engineers have been suspended. Therefore, this funding is expected to support many jobs in order to reduce the impact on the airlines and airports staff.

Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) has also benefited from the financial package as airlines have become “critically disrupted by border closures.” A4ANZ Chief Executive, Alison Roberts said: “as a nation, we are more dependent on aviation than most countries around the world and, the Deputy Prime Minister said today, regional aviation has been smashed by COVID-19.”

However, the Transport Workers’ Union has highlighted that some of the country’s biggest ground-handling companies including Menzies Aviation believe that they have been ignored. They have stated that “no planes can operate if the airports – regional or major – do not have any ground handlers.”