The Nationals has welcomed moves by the Federal Government to ensure costs incurred by regional airports to implement improved security screening measures will not be passed on unfairly to regional travellers.
The Nationals in the Senate negotiated changes to the cost recovery model proposed by the Government to ensure travelers did not face disproportionate cost increases, particularly at a time when regional aviation is reeling from the consequences of coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The Nationals are here for regional Australia. When travel restrictions are lifted we want people visiting the regions and we don’t want costs to replace COVID as an impediment to those visits,” Nationals Senate Leader Bridget McKenzie said.
“We support the security screening, but right now regional tourism is stagnant. We need to kick start it again and adding costs to regional air travel is the wrong thing to do in a post COVID-19 environment,” she said.
Chair of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee and Nationals Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald said regional airport operators had made it clear what increased costs would mean.
“Everyone is aware that if you increase costs on airports, they will be passed on to operators, who will pass them on to passengers,” Senator McDonald said.
“At our hearings many regional airport operators told us they are concerned about the potential impacts of increased costs leading to fewer passengers, fewer services and eventually even fewer airports serving regional Australia.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she is happy to see a solution that benefits regional communities in their time of need.
“This is great news for regional travellers and remote communities in these times of great uncertainty due to the coronavirus,” Ms Landry said.
“Airports are the lifeblood of regional communities and I’m sure it’s a great relief to all concerned knowing the extra costs that airports were going to incur won’t be passed on to regional passengers. The Liberal National Party will always stand up for regional Australians.”