REVENUE at Newcastle Airport is taking a battering due to COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures.
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Job losses are on the horizon as JobKeeper has been denied to the entity.
Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson said, “This is a result of being knocked back by the Federal Government for JobKeeper.”
Newcastle airport has been excluded from accessing the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme due to its ownership model.
The airport is jointly owned by Port Stephens and Newcastle councils and the JobKeeper scheme precludes companies owned by councils from participating in the scheme.
The airport is a proprietary limited company servicing the Hunter’s aviation needs and 1.25 million passengers annually yet it is being denied Government support.
“Despite facing a 90% decline in revenue our airport is being excluded from assistance by the Federal Government,” said Ms Swanson.
She has made representations to the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar seeking an explanation why Newcastle Airport was denied JobKeeper.
Newcastle Airport has applied to the Tax Commissioner to seek special consideration.
If discretion is not granted, the resulting stand-downs could affect 25% of the airport’s employees.
While domestic tourism spending is up, the Australian State Governments’ border policies are crippling the aviation and tourism industry.
Ms Swanson would not comment on border closures, stating that it is a matter for the state’s chief medical officers.
Newcastle Airport provides domestic travel services throughout Australia as well as serving as the base for the RAFF at Williamtown.
National carrier Qantas has committed to offering additional flights, subject to borders opening, including Brisbane to Port Macquarie flights to fill gaps in the market left by Virgin.
The airline has also opened its first flights from Sydney to Orange and will also be flying Sydney to Byron Bay (Ballina), a route it hasn’t flown for 15 years.
These flights are in addition to Jetstar flights to the regions.
We are yet to hear if the carrier will add flights to its Newcastle Airport schedule.
Qantaslink CEO John Gissing said, “We know there is significant pent up demand for domestic travel with Australians wanting to explore their own backyard.”
Qantas has stepped up calls for border openings based on medical risk assessments and a common definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot.
The aviation industry is one of the hardest hit in the country by COVID-19.
By Marian SAMPSON