The regional Qld flight routes staying open
There is hope for a New Zealand travel bubble by Christmas, while domestic flights will continue to be subsidised and regional routes kept open as the airline industry battles against the coronavirus lockdown.
Federal Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack will announce next week's Budget will include an extension of flight route subsidies into early next year, with the program having already cost $150 million in the past six months, while taking a swipe at state border restrictions.
It means regional routes to places including Longreach, Emerald, Gladstone, Hervey Bay, Charleville and Mount Isa will be kept open until March 31.
Flights between Brisbane and other capital cities as well as Cairns will continue to be subsidised until the end of January.
Mr McCormack said border restrictions had made life more difficult for the aviation industry and cost jobs, led to cancelled flights, refunds and passenger frustration.
"Uncertainty affects the ability of airlines and airports to plan for recovery and undermines consumer confidence, which amounts to a significant cost to industry and ultimately the Australian economy," he said.
He said the states needed to do their bit and continue easing border restrictions.
"We know regional tourism will help drive Australia's economic recovery and today's announcement of further support for key routes will be a big boost to local economies," Mr McCormack said.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said he hoped the borders could be opened up with New Zealand by the end of the year.
"That would just be a great step and it would prove the work that is being done to make sure this can be done, again, in a safe way," he told the ABC on Sunday.
Senator Birmingham said there would be strict protocols set up to keep travellers to and from New Zealand away from airport arrivals coming in from other countries.
"We're making sure we have all the work done, all the preparations there so that we can safely achieve that bubble with New Zealand," he said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said they are not considering opening up to individual states, but the country as a whole.
Ms Ardern said she wanted to see Australia go 28 days without any community transmission before that could happen.