The Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) has praised the Australian Government for a programme to provide funds to maintain essential air services throughout the country during the coronavirus crisis.

    An announcement by Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, said that the Commonwealth Government will be providing significant funds to assist the regional aviation industry in maintaining services to rural and regional communities in Australia.

    Regional air services provide the vital link so necessary to the survival and wellbeing of many regional communities across Australia and the closing of state borders coupled with the almost total loss of patronage caused by the covid-19 pandemic meant that many regional air service operators were only days from closing down.

    Commenting on the announcement the RAAA chairman, Jim Davis, said: “Today’s announcement from the Deputy Prime Minister means a lifeline has been given to regional operators and the essential air services that they provide.”

    The Commonwealth Government has provided A$198m for route subsidies designed to provide a reduced service for those regional communities that are in danger of losing their current scheduled air service plus an additional A$100m in direct financial support for smaller airlines that may not otherwise survive.

    Davis added: “The damage caused by the covid-19 virus to a fragile industry is extraordinary and many important regional aviation businesses including tourist operators and flying schools that provide essential services will not survive.

    However, it is highly gratifying that the Government has listened carefully to the industry’s concerns and has moved to ensure that a nucleus of regional air services will remain to rebuild with once this crisis has passed. Without that timely action, many essential regional air services would have been lost forever”.

    The RAAA looks forward to working with the Australian Government to ensure the success of this initiative and the survival of many of the smaller regional airlines. The RAAA represents aviation across Australia.

    It has around 100 members and its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holding members directly employ over 2,500 Australians, many in regional areas. On an annual basis, the RAAA’s AOC members jointly turnover more than A$1.5 billion, carry well in excess of 2 million passengers and move over 23 million kilograms of freight.