The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has forecast a budget surplus of only $12,000 for the 2020-21 financial year, according to figures released by the Department of Infrastructure last week.
Although representing a retained surplus figure of only 0.00057% on the $208 million operating revenue, it is an improved result over the operating loss of $12.5 million booked for the 2019-20 year, when the COVID-forced industry downturn corrupted the regulator's income streams
The 2020-21 forecast is dependent on the fuel levy of $0.03556 per litre reaching expected levels and a special government appropriation of $68 million.
"The aviation landscape has changed dramatically with COVID-19," CASA states in its Entity Resources and Planned Performance statement. "One immediate impact for CASA is that its major funding source, aviation fuel excise, has been significantly reduced.
"CASA’s immediate funding is highly dependent on the recovery of the industry, particularly in the domestic high-capacity regular public transport sector.
"Whilst CASA continues to support industry through significant relief measures including fee relief, CASA is facing several sustainable funding challenges in the near future, with Government providing funding certainty for 2021-22 through additional appropriation."
CASA has forecast their budget will return to surplus in 2021-22, shored-up by continued government appropriations and an annual registration fee on drones weighing over 500 g, which is expect to reap the regulator $1.4 million, blowing out to $26 million the following year.
Cost recovery for regulatory services collected in 2020-21 has been forecast at $10 million, reducing to $7.5 million for the 2021-22 year. The expected result is due to fee waivers granted to support the aviation industry during the downturn.
Staffing levels at CASA are expected to increase by only one person to 832.