Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack hasn’t ruled out providing further assistance to the aviation sector as airlines attempt to operate in a pandemic environment.
“We will continue to look at what is necessary at the time,” Mr McCormack, who is also transport minister, told Sky News on Thursday.
“That’s what we have done right the way through since February-March – we have made sure the assistance is available, not just for the airline industry but for the economy, and we will continue to do that.”
His comments came a day after Virgin Australia announced the cutting of 3000 jobs and the ditching of Tigerair as the airline as emerges from voluntary administration and gets backing from investment group Bain Capital.
Asked if the government was doing enough, Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah said many business leaders wanted to see a plan for how to deal with the virus if there was no vaccine.
“I don”t know how long we can sustain border closures,” he told ABC radio.
He said the market was volatile with the opening and shutting of borders, and this was expected to go on for a while yet.
“We will need continued government support for the whole sector. We will continue to lobby for that and I think that is necessary,” Mr Scurrah told Sky News.
Asked how much he would need, Mr Scurrah said: “How long is a piece of string – who knows?”
He hoped domestic air travel was back to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 but it may take as long as 2024 before the international market returned to those levels.
Mr Scurrah would not rule out further jobs losses.
“No CEO of any airline in the world right now can guarantee anything like that. We are still in the middle of a pandemic. The industry is going through the biggest crisis it has ever seen,” he said.