Package lifts Rex
Friday, 20th March, 2020
By Myles Burt
Rex Airlines has been saved from collapse after a $715 million relief package was announced for the Australian aviation industry.
Rex Airlines, Broken Hill’s sole passenger service, announced in an open letter to Deputy PM Michael McCormack that the company was in extremely dire consequences due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on regional aviation.
Rex said it was not able to survive the coming six months under the current coronavirus forecast, with only weeks of financial reserves left.
The federal government then announced the $715 million relief package on Wednesday, aiming to refund and waive an ongoing range of government charges on the Australian aviation industry such as aviation fuel excise, Airservices charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges.
Parkes MP Mark Coulton said the package was the first financial instalment for the aviation industry, which met a majority of Rex Airline’s assistance recommendations.
Mr Coulton said the government would keep a close eye on the aviation industry, which he said are still relatively safe after government talks with Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy.
“Obviously, if people are coming from areas where they think they may be of risk, we don’t want those people flying into regional communities,” Mr Coulton said.
“But the actual process of travelling by an airline domestically is still pretty safe.”
The move by Deputy PM and Minister for Transport Michael McCormack claims to bring forth an additional upfront estimated benefit of $159 million to airlines for reimbursement of applicable charges paid by domestic airlines since February 1, 2020.
Mr Coulton believes the relief package to be an appropriate response by the Federal Government, which will do more if the aviation industry continues to deteriorate.
“The survival and strength of regional communities revolves around many things, but one of them obviously is having a reliable air service,” Mr Coulton said.
“It’s really important as a government and for the Australian people that we put those resources in to keep those airlines viable, until we get through the other side of this crisis.”
Mr Coulton said he’s been assisting in discussions with Deputy PM Michael McCormack in supporting regional airlines, as well as discussion with PM Scott Morrison with the COVID-19 clinics that have been established in Dubbo and Broken Hill.
Mr Coulton believes Broken Hill being a regional city has an advantage in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic compared to metropolitan areas, yet locals should still remain cautious.
“We’re taking it seriously, it’s not the end of the world, we’ll come through the other side,” Mr Coulton said.
“But it’s important that we understand that there is an issue that we need to deal with.
“The government puts these things in place but it’s up to every individual to play their part and take the advice their given.”