Airservices Australia will reduce charges to its aviation customers for the first time following sweeping cost-cutting measures and a staff restructuring program that resulted in $170 million of savings.
The government-owned air navigation service provider and aviation firefighting operator said on Sunday it would drop charges by two per cent on July 1 as it sought “to minimise operational costs for the airline industry and light aircraft operators”.
The agency froze charges in 2015 ahead of its Accelerate restructuring program that quarantined its air traffic control and aviation rescue and fire-fighting services but reduced non-operational staff by a net 700.
The move was not without friction, with unions threatening strike action over a breakdown in pay negotiations with Airservices last November.
Air traffic controllers have also claimed that their stretched numbers are threatening airline safety. Airservces has a workforce today of around 3,700.
The Accelerate program aimed to reduce costs by around 10 per cent to its aviation customers in the five years to 2022.
“We are passing on these savings to the aviation sector while not compromising operational safety and continuing to improve service delivery and invest in new technology to help the industry grow,” Airservices Australia chief executive Jason Harfield said in a statement.
Harfield said without the price freeze and changes introduced under the program, customers faced price increases of 15 per cent from 2016 – an extra $380 million over the period to 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the price reductions would go some way to helping keep the cost of operating aircraft in Australian airspace as low as possible.
“Air travel for millions of Australians is not optional and the Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to doing its part to keep aviation costs down,” McCormack said in the Airservices statement.