Canberrans will soon be able to access cheap domestic flights just in time to escape the cold after the Federal Government announced a $1.2 billion aviation and tourism package that includes 800,000 half-price airline tickets.
The half-price tickets will initially target 13 regions around the country, around half a dozen of which are in Queensland, including the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and the Whitsundays.
Other locations include Cairns, Alice Springs, Launceston, Kangaroo Island, Hamilton Island, Avalon (Melbourne) and Merimbula.
The discounts will be off the average fare and will be available from 1 April, coinciding with Qantas starting direct flights from Canberra to Ballina-Byron ahead of the Easter long weekend.
CEO of Canberra Airport Stephen Byron said despite Canberra being left off the list, Canberrans can still access the benefits.
“The program is targeted at the areas where the impact from international tourism has been worse and so that is why they have targeted those regions, particularly in Queensland,” he told ABC Radio this morning (11 March).
“The Federal Government is saying the time to starting travelling is now; border closures are behind us because the vaccine is being rolled out.”
More flights out of Canberra Airport are also likely to keep up with the expected demand as the Federal Government works with airlines to increase flights to these areas.
Canberra Airport is currently operating at around 40 per cent of where it was pre-COVID, catering to around 25,000 passengers a week, down from its usual 65,000.
“It is increasing at around 1000 passengers a week, but it is slow and gradual,” Mr Byron said.
“What people will need is the confidence that border closures are behind us.”
Qantas said the package would directly support around 7,500 employees and maintain capability while international borders remain closed.
The government has also extended the $50 million business events grants program for three months to help Australian businesses put on multi-day events. The program will cover up to 50 per cent of the costs.
The tourism package also includes expanding the government’s loans guarantee scheme for local businesses that are still relying on JobKeeper. The scheme has been extended and the maximum loan has been increased from $1 million to $5 million.
The maximum amount a business can turnover to be eligible for the scheme has also increased to $250 million.
The $95 million Zoos and Aquarium program to help maintain animal populations has also been extended for a further six months.
For further information on the COVID-19 tourism support plan visit Austrade.