The Australian Government has announced a new $1.2 billion support package for the airline and tourism industry to replace the Job Keeper scheme which ends on March 31.
The package is a mix of half-price airline tickets, cheap loans for businesses, and direct support to keep planes in the air, and airline workers in their jobs, and would be a bridge to a more normal way of life for Australians.
“This is our ticket to recovery – 800,000 half-price airfares to get Australians traveling and supporting tourism operators, businesses, travel agents, and airlines who continue to do it tough through COVID-19, while our international borders remain closed,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard. That means more jobs and investment for the tourism and aviation sectors as Australia heads towards winning our fight against COVID-19 and the restrictions that have hurt so many businesses.”
“Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever. They want their tourists back. This package, combined with our vaccine roll-out which is gathering pace, is part of our National Economic Recovery Plan and the bridge that will help get them back to normal trading.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the measures would work hand-in-hand to boost interstate tourism and aviation in key regions significantly impacted by the loss of tourists.
“The new Tourism Aviation Network Support (TANS) Program will give Australians clear incentives to travel to key domestic tourism areas,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Discounts will be offered on tens of thousands of fares per week across an initial 13 key tourism regions.
The half-price ticket program will initially operate to 13 key regions including; the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, and Mackay region (Proserpine and Hamilton Island), the Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula, and Kangaroo Island.
The discounts will be off the average fare and will be available on airline websites from 1 April.
Other new measures in the support package include:
- New International Aviation Support to help Australia’s international passenger airlines maintain more than 8,000 core international aviation jobs
- Support for regular passenger airports to meet their domestic security screening costs
- A new Aviation Services Assistance Support Program to help ground-handling companies meet the costs of mandatory training, certification, and accreditation to ensure they maintain their workforces so they can stand them back up when the market expands again.
- The reinstatement of domestic aviation security screening cost rebates for more than 50 regular passenger airports
The Morrison Government will also expand and extend its ‘SME Loan Guarantee Scheme’ as part of its commitment to support up to $40 billion in lending to small and medium enterprises.
Maximum loan terms under the expanded Scheme will also be increased from 5 to 10 years – providing businesses and lenders with greater flexibility.
The expanded scheme will also allow lenders to offer borrowers a repayment holiday of up to 24 months.
Importantly, the Scheme will also be able to be used by eligible businesses to refinance their existing loans. This will allow SMEs to access the more concessional interest rates available under the program and to better manage their cash-flows through an extended loan term and lower combined repayments.
The Government has also extended the following programs to 30 September 2021:
- the successful Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) and Regional Aviation Network Support (RANS) programs
- the 50 percent waiver of domestic air services charges for Regular Public Transport (RPT) and aeromedical flights
- the International Freight Assistance Mechanism.
The $50 million Business Events Grants Program will also be extended by three months to support Australian businesses to hold multi-day business events, covering up to 50 percent of costs incurred in participating business events during the 2021 calendar year. This will help restart Australia’s business events sector.
The COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program will also be extended for three months beyond 13 March