Australia Launches $ 928 Million Covid Package to Boost Airlines, Tourism
Beach goers walk along Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia on December 7, 2020.
Lisa Maree Williams | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Australian government on Thursday unveiled an A $ 1.2 billion ($ 928 million) tourism support program, aimed at boosting local travel while international routes remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The government will subsidize 800,000 tickets on domestic flights to 13 destinations across the country that depend primarily on international tourists, and provide cheap loans to small tour operators.
“Our tourism businesses don’t want to depend on government support indefinitely, they want their tourists back,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. “This package, combined with our vaccine rollout… is the bridge that will help them get back to normal business.”
The package includes A $ 200 million in support for Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia from April to October to help pay the salaries of international flight personnel, keep skills up to date, maintain sleepy planes and get planes out of storage.
“This program allows these people to stay in touch with Qantas so that we don’t lose them … because when the borders open, we need the ability to start as many flights as possible,” said the managing director of Qantas, Alan Joyce.
Qantas hopes to resume some international flights by the end of October, when Australia plans to complete its national Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
Morrison has been cautious about reopening the international border, which has been closed since last March to almost everyone except citizens and permanent residents who must go through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine to their arrival at their expense.
“It’s still a little too early to tell… so we’re going to do this one step at a time,” Morrison told Seven Network News.