The Federal Government will spend an initial $165 million to underwrite a range of Qantas and Virgin flights in a bid to support the airlines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement will ensure that key domestic routes to capital cities and some regional centres are maintained over the next eight weeks.
During a press conference earlier today, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said it would make “the world of difference” for commuters who had come in from overseas, spent 14 days in quarantine, and were then required to travel interstate.
“It’s also going to have, in those planes, Defence personnel, key medical personnel but, most importantly, people and medical equipment,” Mr McCormack said.
“That’s why today’s domestic network announcement is so important and I know that it’s been welcomed by both Qantas and Virgin and certainly by the consumers who are going to take part in those flights over the next two months.”
Newcastle Airport praised the announcement and urged local workers who needed to travel interstate to get in touch.
“This is a very positive sign from the government and a strong move towards protecting jobs in these difficult times,” a statement read on its website.
“Newcastle Airport understands that a lot of people in our region need to travel interstate for their livelihood.
“If you or your company falls into this category, please let us know and we will contact airlines directly and push the case for more flights for our region’s workers.”
The domestic network announcement came on the back of the government’s $715 million rescue package for Australia’s airline industry last month.
It included waiving fees such as fuel excise and security charges.