800,000 flights to be sold at half price
The Federal government will offer 800,000 half-price domestic airfares as part of a billion-dollar bid to get Australian travellers back in the air from the beginning of April.
Half-price airfares will be available for Australians to fly to 13 key regions in a tourism boost that will also include cheap loans for businesses, support to keep planes running and airline workers in jobs.
The fares will be available for purchase online from April 1 and will include Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar.
The destinations included in the half-price scheme are the Gold Coast, Cairns, Whitsundays/Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula, and Kangaroo Island.
It is anticipated that 46,000 half-price fares will be offered each week. The destinations were chosen based on their historical reliance on aviation tourism between the months of April and July.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expected fares to be snapped up quickly and called the scheme a "ticket to recovery".
"(We want) to get Australians travelling and supporting tourism operators, businesses, travel agents and airlines who continue to do it tough through COVID-19, while our international borders remain closed" Prime Minister Morrison said.
"This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard. That means more jobs and investment for the tourism and aviation sectors as Australia heads towards winning our fight against COVID-19 and the restrictions that have hurt so many businesses."
The government has also promised to financially assist Australia's two international passenger airlines, Qantas and Virgin, from April to October in order to keep a combined 8,600 aviation workers employed.
In exchange, Qantas and Virgin will have to report monthly to the government with an assurance that they have maintained "a set level of international flight readiness".
There will be also support for domestic security screening costs at airports and a new Aviation Services Assistance Support Program to help ground-handling companies meet the costs of training staff.
The government will extended and expand its loan program to small and medium businesses from $1 million to $5 million in an effort to encourage businesses to graduate from JobKeeper.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the government would ensure airlines increased capacity for the routes being discounted.
"This (program) will give Australians clear incentives to travel to key domestic tourism areas," Mr McCormack said.
"Discounts will be offered on tens of thousands of fares per week across an initial 13 key tourism regions.
"We're working with airlines to increase the number of flights to these tourism areas - giving travellers the flexibility needed when organising dream holidays to destinations such as tropical north Queensland and Kangaroo Island."
Originally published as 800,000 flights to be sold at half price