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Government treats airports as afterthought, says industry body

written by Adam Thorn | September 28, 2020
A file image of an airport checkin area. (SITA)
A file image of an airport checkin area. (SITA)

The industry body representing Australian airports has said the lack of direct help for its members shows the government is treating them as an “afterthought”.

“Airports have been good corporate citizens during this pandemic, staying open and in many cases reducing or waiving landing fees for airlines despite losing $320 million a month in revenue,” said the Australian Airports Association. “More than 70 per cent of staff at regional airports have been placed on reduced hours, been re-deployed or made redundant.”

Earlier on Monday, the government announced it would continue to supplement domestic routes until 31 January 2021 and regional routes until 28 March 2021.

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However, there was no announcement of aid for airports, many of which aren’t eligible for JobKeeper because they are council-owned, such as Newcastle and Mildura.

AAA chief executive James Goodwin said, “While these programs provide a huge helping hand to our airlines, our airports are still being considered as an afterthought.

“Even with this program in place, jobs on the ground are hard to sustain because the majority of regional airports are council-owned and don’t have access to JobKeeper.

“To provide sector-wide support, the government must use the Budget to support the costs of essential, government-mandated services such as international and domestic security screening, airfield security and extra COVID-19 cleaning.”

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Announcing the continuation of the two aid packages, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the government was “doing our bit” by helping to maintain a minimum network.

“We know regional tourism will help drive Australia’s economic recovery and today’s announcement of further support for key routes will be a big boost to local economies,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

“We acknowledge the disruption caused by current border arrangements has made life difficult in the aviation industry, with cancelled flights, refunds and passenger frustration.

“Uncertainty affects the ability of airlines and airports to plan for recovery and undermines consumer confidence, which amounts to a significant cost to industry and ultimately the Australian economy.”

The package of help for regional aviation, known as the Regional Airline Network Support program, was announced in late March and was initially projected to last six months.

It covered one service per week on each route to 138 communities, as well as granting extra help for aero-medical and “other essential industry service providers”.

Meanwhile, the Domestic Aviation Network Support, first unveiled in April, covers all capital cities and initially allowed the Qantas Group to increase its network from 105 to 164 per week; and Virgin to shift from running only Sydney-Melbourne services to flying 64 return services.

Both carriers have since increased their network as borders have reopened.

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3 Comments

  • Scotty

    says:

    Airports have been screwing Aussies for every dollar since the privatisation in the 1990s, itsore expensive to park your car at OUR airports than take the flight, so I have zero sympathy that these money generators might have to cut back on the champaign for a few months…

  • Linda Weaving

    says:

    ‘Good corporate citizens’? Well, airlines and airports certainly haven’t been good world citizens, since it is they who have been responsible for spreading Covid across the globe! If they were run good business people they would have put aside funds for a rainy day, instead of raking in $billions in profits year after year, and awarding themselves million dollar ‘bonuses’ on top of their already absurd pay cheques. Then they lay off hundreds of employees whilst They continue to sip Bollinger in harbourside mansions and cruise the streets in Ferraris. Yet still they selfishly beg for OUR tax dollars! No Way! There are millions in far more need who are far more deserving. Bushfire victims are still suffering you know!

  • Bob

    says:

    After making every traveling Australian annoyed after ripping them off with outrageous parking fees, poor facilities and sky high rents that lead to a crazy expensive food, the airport industry body is now looking for taxpayer hand outs? Give men a break..However I do note that if the government actually regulated these monopoly assets like it should do then this situation would be less likely to occur.

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