Aviation

Government backs Qantas and Virgin domestic flights with $165m injection

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

The federal government has announced further support for Australia’s commercial aviation sector with a $165 million package to keep Virgin Australia and Qantas flying domestically.

Announced by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack yesterday, the new funding will underwrite 220 flights every week, for eight weeks, on 60 routes for the two carriers.

McCormack said the new round of funding will keep Australians who live within the domestic network connected, ensure essential workers and critical freight get to where it is needed, and save lives and livelihoods.

Under the new domestic schedule, Virgin will operate 64 return services each week, while Qantas/QantasLink/Jetstar flights will increase from 105 per week to 164 per week to all capital cities and 36 regional destinations. Both airlines will progressively offer these domestic flights from today.

In welcoming the federal government funding, Virgin Australia said the minimal domestic schedule will enable the airline to reinstate some of its stood-down flight, cabin and ground crew, along with other operational team members.

Qantas said that while the risk of contracting coronavirus on board an aircraft is regarded as low, social distancing has been put in place across all of its flights.

“Similarly, on-board service will be a scaled-back version of what would normally apply, with cabin crew focused on in-flight safety and they will wear personal protective equipment,” the company said.

“On behalf of the Qantas Group, we sincerely thank our crew for their willingness to make these important flights possible.”

The minimal domestic schedule is in addition to the international repatriation flights that both carrier are currently operating at the request of the government.

The $165 million worth of funding follows the government’s $715 million relief package for Aussie airlines announced last month, as well as a $300 million lifeline for the regional aviation sector.

Credit: iStock/Ryan Fletcher

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