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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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Domestic aviation in ‘state of disaster’ says Canberra Airport

The Canberra Airport is urging National Cabinet to implement a contingency plan within the domestic aviation industry to address its current “state of disaster”.

The call comes after today’s announcement from Canberra Airport that it would no longer operate on Saturdays from 22 August to avoid further job losses and redundancies within the business.

Canberra Airport managing director, Stephen Byron, said the domestic aviation industry had been the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Without dismissing the mental health challenge Victoria is facing at the moment, at least there is a plan of six weeks’ hard lockdown to then come back,” he said.

“There is no plan for aviation. What’s the plan for three months or six months? That’s why we are in a state of disaster.”

Canberra Airport’s decision is a result of only two to three flights operating on a Saturday and they will continue to monitor the situation for possible further closures.

Mr Byron said the decision had been made to avoid any further jobs cuts within the industry, as Qantas previously announced up to 6,000 job losses nationally at the end of June.

“In reality, this closure is to save and preserve jobs before we can have that restart that other businesses have had,” he said.

“This won’t cause any instant job losses because it should preserve and protect against redundancy.

“Virgin and Qantas have parked up to 90% of their planes and this is our equivalent to parking up the airport.”

The airport is still operating daily flights to Sydney and Brisbane, and three flights per week to Ballina-Byron Bay.

Mr Byron said without a contingency plan from National Cabinet, Australians were unable to make any travel plans as far as Christmas.

“The problem is there is no outlook to see domestic aviation even open by Christmas,” he said.

“As an industry we are in more of a lockdown than Victoria. We need a national incremental plan that is going to follow the health advice and we need it so we can fly by Christmas.”

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