Senate Inquiry to Look at State of Australia’s Aviation Industry

Senate Inquiry to Look at State of Australia’s Aviation Industry
Virgin and Jetstar planes get ready to take off from Sydney Airport on Aug. 28, 2014. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Australia’s senate has launched an inquiry into the state of the country’s general aviation industry with a particular focus on aviation in rural, regional, and remote areas.

The senate transport committee will consider the operation and effectiveness of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and other relevant agencies.

It will look at the impacts of decisions made by the aviation sector on people across rural, regional, and remote areas; as well the social implications for businesses and agricultural operations.

The committee will present an interim report in December and a final report by late 2021.

The aviation industry was hit hard by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus (novel coronavirus) pandemic. In response, the federal government launched measures to soften the blow to the sector, including particular measures for regional services.

Qantas and Virgin, the two national carriers, have managed with difficulty to survive by what they called “rightsizing” after facing heavy losses due to the lack of travel demand after the federal, state, and territory government implemented travel bans.

Both major airlines laid off thousands of workers. In June, Qantas said it would cut 6000 jobs, and then in August decided it would outsource ground handling crew which would see it cut over 2500 jobs.

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder told the airline’s AGM last month the CCP virus and border restrictions had caused a $4 billion loss to revenue in the previous financial year and at least $10 billion this year.

Australian Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese addressed rallying workers in Canberra on Monday, saying aviation workers had experienced the “year from hell.” He also took the opportunity to attack the Morrison government.

“They deserve a government that has their backs, but instead the Morrison government is just leaving them behind,” he said.

Transport Minister Michael McCormack earlier told Parliament that the aviation industry was “making great progress on the comeback.”

“It has been so hard,” he said. “Planes in the air means jobs on the ground. And aviation was hit first and hit hardest, and we have protected and backed and supported the aviation sector.”

But aviation workers and their union representatives rallying outside Parliament House disagreed.

“It is crucial that Parliament recognises the particular difficulties the aviation industry is in and investigates what needs to be done to save jobs and businesses,” Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“This is not an industry that can be allowed to die, yet that is what we are facing since the federal government has no plan, no policy and no strategy for our industry,” he said.

But not all is bad news in aviation as while the major carriers have shrunk in scale, regional airline Rex has grown.

Rex announced in September a deal with PAG Asia Capital that would take it one step closer to expanding its operations to service Australia’s lucrative “golden triangle” market—Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

AAP contributed to this report.
Caden Pearson is a reporter covering U.S. and world news.
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