OPEN LETTER TO THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ON IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON REGIONAL AVIATION AND REGIONAL COMMUNITIES Regional Express (Rex) has lodged an open letter to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Nationals, Michael McCormack, on the extremely dire consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on regional aviation and on regional communities (Read letter HERE). In their media release of March 17th they say "Rex is a very strong airline with no debt and probably only one of five airlines worldwide that managed to maintain uninterrupted profits since 2003 in spite of a series of global economic and environmental shocks - wars, fuel prices above USD120 a barrel, volcanic ash, GFC, the worst drought in 120 years, catastrophic bush fires, crippling pilot shortages and the list goes on. Yet even Rex cannot survive the next six months of this global emergency if the forecast of worldwide health experts materialises. "If Rex, with all its strengths, were to collapse, probably following the collapse of all other independent regional carriers, and maybe even a domestic carrier, there will be utter chaos and mayhem on many regional and rural communities that depend on regional air services to be their socio-economic lifeline. "The crisis we are facing is a national emergency of epic proportions not seen since World War II and is not expected to abate for at least nine months. Just today Qantas has announced the slashing of 90% of its international routes and grounding of over 150 jets. The CEO of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, has issued an urgent call to all governments in an interview last week: “Airlines would need emergency measures to get through the crisis, and governments should be looking at all possible means to assist the industry.” “Extending lines of credit, reducing infrastructure costs, lightening the tax burden are all measures the governments will need to explore.” “Air transport is vital, but without a lifeline from governments we will have a sectorial financial crisis piled on top of the public health emergency.” Rex warns the government that many of the smaller regional carriers have only weeks of reserves left (rapidly changing to days with the situation deteriorating exponentially). If the pandemic continues to grow at the exponential rate of the past week then impactful actions need to be taken in the next two weeks to prevent irreversible damage being done to most regional carriers. Rex is confident that the Leader of the Nationals will display firm and decisive leadership during this period of national emergency and will not allow all the regional carriers to collapse under his watch. Rex has outlined measures the Government can adopt to provide regional carriers with a fighting chance to stay afloat long enough to survive the pandemic and we look forward to working closely with the government to implement these measures.
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