The Federal Government said last week it would develop a Regional Aviation Policy as part of what it says is a commitment to growing regional Australia.
Addressing the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) convention on the Gold Coast, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the government would develop the policy in collaboration with airlines, regional airport operators and local and state governments.
“Affordable and accessible air services are crucial to connecting regional Australia in terms of tourism, travel, business, health and education and it underpins our economic development and delivery of critical services," McCormack said
“This policy statement will canvass strategies to ensure regional aviation remains competitive and viable into the future and we will also be listening closely to the views of regional development and tourism organisations and business."
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) References Committee chair Senator Susan McDonald welcomed the announcement as it followed an inquiry and report completed by the RRAT.
“I have seen first-hand the struggles of regional aviation, in particular in Western Queensland and the committee’s report identified a number of challenges for regional communities in the air services they have access to,” McDonald said.
“While there are challenges, there are also opportunities and I am very keen to see the Government do what it can to reduce unnecessary regulatory and financial burden to regional aviation operators, particularly in the general aviation sector which has been struggling for many years now.”
The scope of the policy is expected to cover:
- the role of regional airports and airlines as enablers of social and economic development in regional Australia
- the role of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and local governments in regional aviation
- the impact of regulatory and operational costs on airports and airlines
- the effectiveness of government programs that support regional aviation
- opportunities for further investment in regional aviation activities including new technologies, recreational aviation, pilot training and agriculture-related aerial work.
RAAA CEO Mike Higgins also welcomed the announcement.
“This government initiative to develop a comprehensive regional aviation policy statement including airlines and all stakeholders is indeed welcomed,” he said.
“This will perfectly complement the recent announcement of funding to regional airports and help provide a sustainable and vibrant regional aviation transport sector.”
The Federal Government expects to release an Issues Paper to canvass the views of stakeholders in the coming weeks.