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‘Regional Aviation Has Been Smashed’: Millions Announced To Help Airlines

The federal government will invest almost $300 million to help the regional aviation sector get through the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today I'm announcing $198 million dollars as part of an additional network support measure to help subsidise the 138 or so communities that rely on aviation," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Saturday in Wagga Wagga.

"These are airline companies that are flying in and out of centres such as Wagga Wagga.

"They will be subsidised so that regional airlines, the dozen or so regional aviation companies, and others, that fly into each and every day [can continue]."

He said air services are needed now more than ever to connect regional Australia to freight, medical testing, supplies, and essential personnel.

"This package guarantees core routes for domestic air freight will remain open and essential workers remain employed while providing vital financial support for airlines servicing regional and remote locations."

Another $100 million will be offered to regional aviation companies on a case-by-case basis to help them get through the crisis.

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This brings the government's total commitment to the aviation sector to over $1 billion.

"Everything we are doing as a government in response to COVID-19 is focused on saving lives and livelihoods," he said.

The aviation industry has welcomed the announcement.

“We congratulate the Government on its support for, and recognition of, the vital role that airlines play in supporting regional Australia,"  Airlines for Australia & New Zealand (A4ANZ) Chairman, Professor Graeme Samuel said.

Samuels said 26,000 people are employed in regional aviation.

"This regional aviation package from the Government is both welcome and a necessary step in the industry’s survival.”

A strong regional aviation sector is worth billions of dollars to rural communities.

This week Virgin Australia announced more than 1000 of its 8000 workers that have been asked to take leave will probably be made redundant.

This included all of its 220 Tigerair pilots. McCormack ruled out nationalising struggling airlines.

"It is not the government's intention to nationalise airlines," he said.

"We want them to continue to be commercial operations. We want the aviation sector to come out the other side as best it can."

With AAP.