Regional flights to resume as govt underwrites routes for Qantas, Virgin

Regional flights to resume as govt underwrites routes for Qantas, Virgin

Coronavirus
Virgin will reinstate some of the staff it stood down when it suspended services following COVID-19 travel restrictions. Picture: Karleen Minney

Virgin will reinstate some of the staff it stood down when it suspended services following COVID-19 travel restrictions. Picture: Karleen Minney

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Virgin will resume flights to major regional centres as it commits to a minimum domestic flight schedule underwritten by the federal government.

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Virgin will resume flights to and from major regional centres as it commits to a minimum domestic flight schedule underwritten by the federal government.

Qantas and Virgin Australia will operate a domestic network flying critical metropolitan and regional routes after the government agreed to underwrite the services up to $165 million.

The network includes all state and territory capital cities and major regional centres such as Albury, Alice Springs, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Kalgoorlie, Mildura, Port Lincoln, Rockhampton, Tamworth, Townsville and Wagga Wagga.

Virgin will also resume flying between Canberra and Melbourne under its new national schedule of 64 return domestic services, starting on Friday.

The two major airlines' new minimum domestic network will run for an initial eight weeks.

Virgin will reinstate some of its stood down flight, cabin and ground crew, along with other operational team members.

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the network would provide secure and affordable routes for passengers needing to travel, including essential frontline medical and defence personnel, while also supporting movement of essential freight.

Australians returning from overseas but not arriving in their home city would be able to complete their journey after 14 days of mandatory quarantine, he said.

The government will monitor the market and determine if further action is required as the airlines operate the domestic network.

Virgin announced earlier this month it would suspend all but one of its domestic return services, while Qantas has reduced its domestic capacity.

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