Virgin Australia’s cuts to jobs and long haul international routes accentuate the need for a Government-led COVID-19 recovery strategy for the aviation industry, according to the Australian Airports Association (AAA).
AAA Chief Executive, James Goodwin, said, “Our thoughts are with those affected by Virgin Australia’s announcement.
“There are few industries hit harder by the pandemic than aviation and this is another blow for the sector.
“There is deep concern amongst the airport sector at the flow-on impact of the significant job losses and service reductions outlined by Virgin Australia.
“This highlights the need for the Government to develop an aviation industry recovery strategy as the economy adapts to COVID-19.
“Throughout the extraordinary COVID-19 crisis, airports have been committed to staying open to assist people to return home from overseas, for essential workers to continue doing their jobs and keep our global freight airbridges operating.”
Mr Goodwin said domestic and international air passenger movement has fallen by 98 per cent since the pandemic began, yet the fixed costs to operate airports haven’t changed, with runways still needing to be open and safety and security screening maintained.
“Airports are concerned Virgin Australia’s withdrawal from long-haul international routes will push back the safe reopening of international air corridors while the laying up of its short-haul regional fleet may further reduce the connectivity of regional Australia to our major cities,” Mr Goodwin said.
“It is important that governments maintain a strong focus on the challenges of the aviation sector and the flow-on benefits the sector has to the rest of the economy.
“Airports are calling for support for installation of Government-mandated domestic and international security screening equipment as well as rebates for international screening charges.
“Assistance for regional airports is also needed as they continue to operate essential services for their communities, but many are not eligible for government support programs.”