The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government will develop a comprehensive Regional Aviation Policy statement in partnership with airlines, regional airports, local council owners, state and territory governments and local communities as part of its commitment to growing regional Australia.
Addressing the Regional Aviation Association of Australia National Convention on the Gold Coast last night, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the statement would form part of the Government’s commitment to securing economic growth across remote and regional Australia through a strong aviation sector.
“Affordable and accessible air services are crucial to connecting regional Australia in terms of tourism, travel, business, health and education and it underpins our economic development and delivery of critical services.
“This policy statement will canvass strategies to ensure regional aviation remains competitive and viable into the future and we will also be listening closely to the views of regional development and tourism organisations and business” Mr McCormack said.
The statement will build on the recent Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report, which looked into the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities.
The Committee’s Chair, Senator Susan McDonald welcomed the announcement.
“I have seen firsthand the struggles of regional aviation, in particular in Western Queensland and the committee’s report identified a number of challenges for regional communities in the air services they have access to,” said Senator McDonald.
“While there are challenges, there are also opportunities and I am very keen to see the Government do what it can to reduce unnecessary regulatory and financial burden to regional aviation operators, particularly in the general aviation sector which has been struggling for many years now.”
The statement will also cover the role of regional airports and airlines as enablers of social and economic development in regional Australia; the role of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and local governments in regional aviation and the impact of regulatory and operational costs on airports and airlines.
It will also examine the effectiveness of government programs that support regional aviation and opportunities for further investment in regional aviation activities including new technologies, recreational aviation, pilot training and agriculture-related aerial work.
CEO of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia, Mike Higgins also welcomed the announcement and the continuing focus on regional aviation.
“This government initiative to develop a comprehensive regional aviation policy statement including airlines and all stakeholders is indeed welcomed,” Mr Higgins said.
“This will perfectly complement the recent announcement of funding to regional airports and help provide a sustainable and vibrant regional aviation transport sector.”
The Federal Government expects to release an Issues Paper to canvass the views of stakeholders in the coming weeks.