Australians in London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland have a new way of heading home over -the next month thanks to a deal between the federal government and the nation’s two major airlines.
The government announced the deal with Virgin Australia and Qantas Friday as the rapid reduction in commercial airline services made it increasingly difficult for expatriates to return home.
It did not reveal details about frequency or fares.
Transport Minister Michael McCormack said the locations were chosen based on providing accessibility to the biggest number of Australians overseas.
“This is about getting Australians back home as soon as possible,” McCormack said.
“These flights will also provide much-needed freight capacity to Australian exporters and importers to these destinations.
The government has been calling for some time for Aussies overseas to return home and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne urged them to take advantage of the emergency network.
“Many Australians will be able to get to one of these four destinations. They can do so knowing there will be an Australian airline to get them home,” Payne said.
“We recognize that, in some cases, this will not be possible. We will continue to work closely with airlines and our overseas consular assistance network in these situations.
“Where there are no commercial options available, the Government will consider supporting, on a case-by-case basis, non-scheduled services to other overseas destinations.
“We are continuing our constructive discussions with Qantas and Virgin on flights to less accessible destinations, including South America and the Pacific.”
Flights into Australia have been severely restricted but there have been some options such as Qatar Airways
The Australian government also announced earlier this week that it would provide $A110m to subsidize air cargo operations designed to get produce from agriculture and fisheries exporters overseas.