Mildura Airport ‘falling through cracks’ of JobKeeper rules

written by Adam Thorn | May 6, 2020
Mildura Airport
Mildura Airport is ineligible for JobKeeper payments because it’s council-owned (WikiCommons)

The chairman of Victoria’s busiest regional airport has said the business is “falling through the cracks” because it’s ineligible for government financial help.

Talking to the ABC, Mildura’s Peter O’Donnell said, “Nearly every bit of support we’re looking at is unavailable to us despite the fact we’re running 95 per cent down on revenue and we’ve laid off 60 per cent of our staff.”

It comes as an increasing number of businesses working in the aviation industry are discovering they are not able to claim JobKeeper payments.

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Some airports, for instance, are exempt because they are council-owned.

O’Donnell said, “We get our revenue from passengers — basically every person that flies, a small proportion of what they pay goes to the airport.

“There’s not a lot of people on planes at the moment, so the reality is our revenue is down to about 5 per cent of what it was pre-coronavirus. Airlines are being supported to maintain the routes, which means that airports have to maintain the facilities.”

The Australian Airports Association chief executive Simon Bourke added that many smaller hubs were losing highly trained staff as the pandemic takes hold.

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“It’s made life quite difficult from an operational perspective, in terms of retaining those invaluable staff at airports across the country,” Bourke said.

Yesterday, Australian Aviation revealed 4500 dnata jobs are “at risk” because the businesses can’t claim JobKeeper payments.

The catering and ground handling business says the Tax Office originally said it could apply for the aid, but then reversed its decision because the company is owned by a foreign government.

“We are surprised and disappointed by the government’s decision to retrospectively amend the JobKeeper legislation,” said the spokesperson. “This change, at short notice and backdated to 30 March, excludes dnata, an employer of 6,000 Australians from the JobKeeper scheme.

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