Aviation industry virus support extended

The federal government is extending its support for the aviation industry.
The federal government is extending its support for the aviation industry.

The Morrison government has secured foreign freight flights for South Australian exporters to deliver fresh produce, seafood and meat to Hong Kong.

It comes as the government extends its support to the domestic aviation sector to ensure the industry is sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is currently supporting the sector through more than $1.2 billion of measures.

"We have kept the aviation sector going by funding minimum networks to get essential personnel and critical supplies to where they may be needed," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said in a statement on Sunday.

"The measures announced today will help ensure Australian airlines and operators can maintain essential air services as we map out our economic recovery."

Mr McCormack, who is also the transport minister, said the government would work with industry to ensure Australians could have access to domestic air travel as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed.

This will include extending the Domestic Aviation Network Support program to September 30, to maintain major domestic air routes and extending the Regional Airline Network Support program from September 30 to December 31, to ensure essential flights continue to regional communities.

Other measures include extending a range of measures under the $715 million Australian Airline Financial Relief and extending the $100 million Regional Airlines Funding Assistance program until December 31 or until allocated funds are exhausted.

The government will also allow leased federal airports to seek partial relief from land tax charges to December 31 in line with state government land tax relief arrangements.

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Cathay Pacific will commence a weekly freight flight from Adelaide to Hong Kong to carry 30 tonnes of premium South Australian produce including abalone, tuna, eggs and beef.

Singapore airlines has also agreed to extend their weekly freight flight from Adelaide to Singapore for an additional six weeks due to ongoing strong demand.

"With very few international passenger planes flying at present, our agricultural and seafood producers continue to face major hurdles getting their produce into key export markets," Minister Birmingham, a South Australian senator, said in a statement.

"These freight flights are critical to getting South Australian produce out the door during these tough times and helping to keep our farmers and fishers in business."

Australian Associated Press