The Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has warned regional airlines they must remain vigilant as access to major airports continues to be under pressure.
Addressing the RAAA convention today, the Minister said that although he would work to retain access to major city airports for regional airlines, major airport operators were continuing to press for change. He cited a recent representation from Sydney Airport in which the desire to remove regional airlines from the airport remains palpable.
“So be vigilant. The threat is there. There is no second airport [and there is] increased pressure,” Albanese cautioned, while urging regional operators to continue to work with the Government to push against ongoing pressure from major airports, particularly Sydney.
Albanese said the recent expansion of services by Rex and Virgin Australia between regional centres and major cities in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales highlighted the critical ongoing need for regional carriers to continue to have access to capital city airports.
“I again state this Government’s support for regional airlines to be able to use major airports including during peak times. This is absolutely vital to Australia. This commitment includes Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport.”
In his address, Albanese also addressed the chronic shortage of new recruits to the industry: an issue of concern to leaders across all sectors of the aviation industry.
“I am aware that many of you are concerned about the lack of skilled workers that are needed now and into the future,” the Minster said, adding the Federal Government’s Vocational Education Training Program has placed 2850 students in aviation courses in addition to the national apprenticeship scheme, which is placing people in engineering and maintenance roles in regional areas.
The RAAA described Anthony Albanese this morning “as the most accessible Federal Minister for nearly 20 years”, and welcomed his proactive interest in the regional aviation sector.
Albanese’s view that “While we may not agree on everything, I am honest with you” was at least proved in his robust comments on continued access to city airports by regional carriers.