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Call to commit to economic assistance for regional airports

NSW Labor has urged the Liberal-National Government to commit to economic assistance for regional NSW Councils moving forward, to ensure long term viability of Council operated Airports, post COVID-19 pandemic. Shadow Minister for Regional Transport David Harris said the State Government must commit to measures to save regional air travel saying "Local Government have been hit with a loss of landing fees during this period which means that Councils will be relying on ratepayers to subsidise the operation of airports in the short to long term.

"Regional NSW needs a vibrant airline industry for transport links and freight options to return post COVID-19 and its vital local Councils are supported to keep regional airports viable.

Over twenty Regional airports, including Merimbula and Moruya are owned and operated by Local Government across Regional NSW.

“Regional air travel provides an invaluable service and contribution to the well-being of regional and remote communities across NSW,” Mr Harris said.

“There are places all across the state which rely on regional air travel for tourism, freight, FIFO health workers and other public servants. We must ensure they are not left isolated in the long term.  

“The provision of airports provides a significant development impetus to regional and rural NSW, which encourages business investment and economic development opportunities. On Friday 20th March 2020 the Eurobodalla Council agreed to reduce its commercial fees at Moruya Airport for Rex Airlines. The airline wrote to partner councils outlining the dire financial crisis facing airlines as a result of the coronavirus, and requesting a 70 percent decrease in airport fees for nine months. Council’s General Manager Dr Catherine Dale responded, agreeing to the reduction "in light of the essential service Rex provides to the Eurobodalla community"

Eurobodalla Council General Manager Dr Catherine Dale says the decision to reduce its commercial fees at Moruya Airport for Rex Airlines will be reviewed at the end of five months to see if the situation has improved

Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren said the State Government must commit to support Regional Councils.

“It is vital we keep regional airports viable. We need an economic survival plan to help them through this difficult time.”

“Many of these regional councils are already reeling from the impacts of drought and bushfires.

“I am calling on the Premier to recognise the importance of supporting regional Council Airports, particularly the smaller ones and to commit to a recovery package, post virus, to guarantee the long term viability of air travel.“

“Any government post-virus package should consider the impacts on local Councils who own and operate many regional airports.”

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