Air fare reduced to half as part of govt-aided tourism support package


Around 800,000 half-price airline tickets are being made available as part of a $1.2 billion tourism support package unveiled by the Federal Government.

The scheme will encourage Australians to take a holiday interstate at a time when the international border remains closed.

With the exception of a flight between Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, all of the discounted routes are for interstate travel.

Destinations across 13 regions in all of the states and territories have been chosen based on their usual reliance on international tourism.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the airline also advised the Government on current demand levels, with some areas still struggling compared to others.

“This package will allow us to put 21 extra flights every week into Cairns… we’ll be putting 35 extra return flights into the Gold Coast every week,” he said.

“To Ballina, we’ve already doubled the amount of capacity to pre-COVID levels, it’s full there.”

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described the routes below as an “initial list” and flagged more locations might be added depending on how the scheme goes.

Discounted tickets can be purchased between the beginning of April and the end of July, for travel through until the end of September.

Qantas says its discounted flights will be available online from April 1 for travel from May 1.

The government says the airlines are expected to start advertising the flights in the next couple of weeks, once the finer details of the package are agreed.

The subsidy is open to any airline that has been flying the nominated routes in the past two years, meaning some regional operators will be eligible along with Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar.

The discounts will be calculated according to the “average fare” as of February this year and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the airlines have assured the government they won’t be able to hike up prices.

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The government and the airlines say the success of this program depends on the states and territories not snapping their borders shut in response to future COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Commonwealth is hoping the rollout of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program means border closures are imposed only as a last resort.

The Prime Minister says he is hopeful Australia’s international border might re-open by the end of October, although he warns that is not yet confirmed.

The announcement of this package comes ahead of the JobKeeper wage subsidy coming to an end later this month.

The government argues that program could not be kept running forever, but with more than 600,00 Australian jobs tied to the tourism industry, it was under pressure to provide more support.