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Australians are heading to the skies again and the federal government wants to make sure regulation and financial support of the aviation sector are right to ensure the industry can take off after the devastation of the pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has released an aviation recovery framework backed by more than $110 million in funding for now.
The federal government has released its plan to bring the aviation sector back to pre-pandemic levels and grow further.Credit:Bloomberg
It includes a push for more use of drones and setting the right conditions for air taxis when they eventuate. The Civil Aviation Act will be reviewed in 2022 and the regulatory framework for airports updated to make sure it suits the modern era.
A strategic aviation advisory forum will be established in mid-2022 for two years to report to the government on the sector’s recovery and suggest policy changes where needed.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce last week outlined an optimistic outlook for his airline’s recovery, anticipating air travel would return to pre-COVID levels by the end of March and 117 per cent of the pre-pandemic level by mid-2022.
Virgin Australia has also now resumed international flights for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Its chief executive Jane Hrdlicka has also flagged plans to lower fares, which could prompt a period of fierce competition among airlines.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the government wanted to foster a competitive, safe and secure aviation sector that everyone could rely on.
“Aviation is integral to our national supply chains, providing essential services to regional and remote communities and connecting Australian businesses with international markets,” Mr Joyce said.
“As a critical enabler of economic activity, the government is focused on ensuring the industry returns to pre-pandemic levels as soon as it is safe to do so. We also want the sector to grow into the future.”
Earlier in December the Commonwealth and Victorian governments signed a deal to foster growth in new aviation technologies such as drones and air taxis. Now the federal government is backing the emerging sector with $32.6 million in grants.
It’s also offering more money in existing programs for regional airport upgrades and improved remote landing strips.
It wants to cut red tape and streamline Commonwealth responsibilities at airports after a review of regulations, two decades after privatisation.
However, the government acknowledges this will take time, noting “there is considerable work required”. It plans to use the consultation from the framework’s development as a starting point for changes.
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