THE federal government has announced a $715-million coronavirus relief package for the aviation industry, a day after major airlines announced it would be grounding the majority of flies and a regional carrier warned it was six months away from collapsing.
The package involves the refunding and ongoing waiving of a range government charges on the industry including fuel excise, airservices charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges.
Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack said airlines run on tight budgets at the best of times and with people across the nation reducing travel, these past few few weeks had been particularly tough.
"Providing this assistance not only helps our airlines but also the entire aviation industry, regional Australians in particular and other industries such as tourism and trade, which depend on aviation," Mr McCormack said.
Labor's infrastructure spokesperson Catherine King said it was "a welcome first step, but it is highly likely that much more will be needed".
"Further capacity reductions of both international and domestic services from both major airlines in the last 24 hours and ongoing requests from across the aviation sector indicates further support will be needed," Ms King said.
Qantas and Jetstar both announced they would cut international flights by 90 per cent and domestic flights by 60 per cent from the end of March until at least the end of May.
Virgin has also slashed flights in response to the reduced demand for travel.
Regional airline Rex penned an open letter to Mr McCormack on Tuesday, pleading for government assistance.
"Rex does not believe that Rex, and all other regional carriers, will be able to pull through this crisis without significant assistance if the health authorities' projections prove accurate," Rex chief operating officer Neville Howell wrote.