Australian government extends subsidies for domestic regional routes

Regional flying within Australia is ‘central to local economies,’ deputy prime minister says.

The Australian government will extend financial assistance to airlines to operate otherwise loss-making domestic regional routes into 2021, Michael McCormack, Australia’s deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, said over the weekend.

The Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) program will be extended until Jan. 31, 2021 and the Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program will be extended until March 28, 2021, McCormack said in a statement. He noted that the Australian federal government had already invested A$150 million ($106 million) into the two programs.

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“Planes in the air mean jobs on the ground, and as part of our economic plan for a more secure and resilient Australia, we will continue to back our aviation sector,” McCormack said. “In regional Australia, flights are so central to local economies, underpinning many small businesses including tourism operators, whilst ensuring continued access to key medical supplies and personnel.”

He added: “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 federal government is doing our bit by underwriting these flights to maintain minimum connectivity… Prior to the pandemic, one in four Australians would travel by air to visit friends or family every year and by underwriting key routes, we are providing the opportunity for Australians to do just that.”

Photo credit: Rob Finalyson

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