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The federal government is extending subsidies for airlines operating flights between capital cities and regional towns.

Support for key domestic routes will continue until the end of January, while regional routes will be propped up until March.

The government has already spent $150 million helping Qantas, Virgin and smaller airlines survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The upcoming federal budget is expected to contain hundreds of millions of dollars in additional support.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said airlines had been smashed by coronavirus shutdowns and border closures.

“Uncertainty affects the ability of airlines and airports to plan for recovery and undermines consumer confidence, which amounts to a significant cost to industry and ultimately the Australian economy,” he said.

“The federal government is doing our bit by underwriting these flights to maintain minimum connectivity.

“Now we need the states and territories to do their bit too as we again encourage the continued easing of border restrictions.”

One in four Australians travelled by air to visit friends and family every year before the coronavirus pandemic.

“By underwriting key routes, we are providing the opportunity for Australians to do just that,” Mr McCormack said.