Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has announced a suite of federal measures worth $183.65 million, including a new rebate for international airports, to help cushion the aviation industry from the economic impact of COVID-19.
Joyce, who is also minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, said in a statement that the added support would help prepare airlines and airports to respond to increased demand once Australia’s borders opened to international travellers.
“Australia’s aviation industry will play a vital role in our economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” Joyce said.
“With vaccination rates rising we are getting closer to borders reopening. Our support for the aviation industry will ensure Australia reaps the economic benefits of international travel once restrictions are eased.”
To date, the federal government has committed $5.1 billion towards the aviation industry since the start of the pandemic. To help address the impact of limited international air travel as a result of government public health orders and border closures relating to COVID-19, the federal government has committed extra money for two new projects.
Joyce announced that $119.65 million would go towards extending the government’s international aviation support program to the end of March next year, and another $64 million would go to funding airport rebates for all major international airports in Australia between October 2021 to March 2022.
“Rebates for major international airports will help ease the financial burden they are currently experiencing due to low passenger numbers, assisting them to manage the costs associated with international services until demand increases,” he said.
The rebate scheme aims to help airports meet the costs for mandated security requirements, such as passenger and baggage screening on international passenger flights.
Australian Airports Association CEO James Goodwin said the rebate program would enable airports support the government’s plan to reopen borders.
“Australia’s airports will perform a vital role in assisting government facilitate any new protocols and procedures as international travel resumes. We know restarting international aviation is not as simple as just opening the border,” Goodwin said.
“There will be major complexities involved but airports stand ready to ensure the operational environment, policy settings and logistics are right so overseas travel can continue to be safe and secure for all passengers and staff.”
The mandatory government protocols covered by the rebate must be followed, no matter how many aircraft land or how many passengers are on board, Goodwin added.
“As a driver of so many sectors of our economy, it is essential that the industry is ready to ramp up operations when international restrictions are eased,” Joyce said.
“It’s also important that the sector continues operating now, to maintain the flow of exports and imports and bring Australians home from overseas.”
Trade and tourism minister Dan Tehan added that the government measures intended to give Australian travellers confidence about their trip once international borders reopened.
“Backing our international airports and airlines complements the work our government is doing to maintain global air links through the international freight assistance mechanism,” Tehan siad.
“Australia’s tourism industry is a vital part of our economy and our airlines and airports will be essential as we welcome back international visitors to support the 600,000 jobs and businesses reliant on tourism.”