Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Aviation Recovery Framework

The Australian Government has released an Aviation Recovery Framework.

The Framework outlines the Government's response to COVID-19 by supporting operations and jobs through the most severe phases of the crisis and details how the Government will boost recovery, in line with the National Plan to transition Australia's National COVID-19 Response.

It also sets out new policies to reposition aviation post COVID-19 to ensure a competitive, safe and secure aviation sector that meets the needs of Australians now and into the future.

Further information is available here

copy of the framework (PDF: 3499 KB)

Assistance to the Aviation Sector

The aviation sector has been disproportionally affected by COVID-19. Since March 2020, the Australian Government has implemented a range of measures to support the industry and maintain air connectivity for Australians.

International Airports Security Charges Rebate

The International Airports Security Costs Rebate Program (IASCR) is designed to assist eligible airports to maintain regulated security obligations for international flights that must be met regardless of the reduced volume of aviation activity during the COVID-19 crisis.

The program is open to existing international airports in Australia designated Major International OR a federally-leased international airport in Australia designated Restricted-Use International. The Grant Guidelines specify which specific airports are eligible.

The Australian Government has committed $64 million to the IASCR Program to assist in meeting mandated security obligations from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. The funding forms part of a more than $5 billion package of Australian Government assistance to support the aviation sector, recognising the dramatic impact of the COVID pandemic on the aviation sector.

Grant Guidelines and the Application Form are available on GrantConnect.

International Aviation Support (IAS)

The international aviation sector continues to be heavily affected by restrictions on international passenger departures and arrivals. The Australian Government is providing support to maintain a core Australian international aviation capability and ensure our airlines can quickly recommence commercial international flights as international restrictions are lifted.

Tourism Aviation Network Support (TANS)

The Tourism Aviation Network Support program has been established to reduce the costs for tourists flying to key tourism regions hit hard during COVID-19. Over 800,000 half-price tickets to the identified regions are being sold under the program. For its first 6 months, the TANS program also underwrote the cost of additional flights on certain routes to key tourism regions that remained at minimum connectivity levels.

Regional Airline Network Support (RANS)

The Regional Airline Network Support program provides support to airlines to maintain a basic level of connectivity across their network of regional routes during COVID-19. This is supporting critical air services to connect regional Australia to freight, medical testing, supplies and essential personnel.

The Program underwrites eligible services on a shortfall subsidy basis, with the cost offset by remaining commercial revenue from passengers and freight. The program first commenced on 28 March 2020 and will now provide support through to 30 June 2022 or until existing funding is expended, whichever occurs sooner.

Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure (RASI)

As part of the $715 million AAFRP package, the $66 million Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure program aims to assist regional airports with the minimum necessary capital and initial operating costs of complying with enhanced security screening requirements.

The objective of the RASI program is to reduce the cost burden of security compliance on regional airports to avoid those costs being passed on to airlines and airport users. Regional airports with a grant agreement in place for the Regional Airport Security Screening Fund (GO1551), or who have been offered a grant agreement under GO1551, are eligible to apply for a RASI grant.

COVID Aviation support measures that close on 31 December 2021

The Aviation Services Accreditation Support Program (ASAS)

The Government will provide support over nine months to businesses providing ancillary support services to the aviation industry; for example, ground handling companies.

Ground handling organisations service all aspects of aviation undertaking a range of duties including, but not limited to, conducting safety inspections, handling passenger baggage, managing arrivals, cleaning and towing aircraft, overseeing inflight catering, and ground engineering, and ground handling services.

As the economy recovers, demand for aviation will increase. Qualified, accredited, and trained aviation support workers will be critical for the aviation industry to meet renewed demand.

However, many ground handlers have not worked since March 2020, and will require retraining and reaccreditation to ensure safety standards are maintained for all flights. The program is intended to support training and accreditation for about 5,000 employees, or around 30 per cent of the pre-COVID workforce.

The first round of the Aviation Services Accreditation Support (ASAS) program opened on 29 March 2021. Grant guidelines are available on the GrantConnect website.

Domestic Airports Security Costs Support (DASCS)

The Domestic Airports Security Costs Support program runs from 29 March to 31 December 2021 and represents part of the Australian Government's continued economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides financial assistance to Australia's eligible domestic airports to assist with costs associated with mandated passenger and baggage screening requirements that must be met regardless of the volume of aviation activity.

The DASCS program funds eligible domestic airports to cover prescribed components of the costs of passenger and baggage screening to assist airports to meet regulated screening obligations and to avoid associated costs being passed on to airlines and subsequently passengers through increased ticket prices.

Retaining Domestic Airline Capability (RDAC)

RDAC is intended to assist airlines maintain core sovereign domestic aviation capabilities, through the retention of essential aviation sector skills and knowledge. This will ensure airlines can quickly increase capacity as border restrictions ease, recognising aviation is a key driver of growth in the broader economy.

Funding will be provided to eligible airlines which can demonstrate a minimum 30 per cent reduction in their network following a declaration of a COVID hot spot, by the national Chief Medical Officer.

The Program will operate from 2 August to 31 December 2021. Grant guidelines were published on the GrantConnect website on 12 August 2021.

Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS)

Through the Domestic Aviation Network Support program, the Government is providing support to the aviation industry and helping maintain minimum connectivity within Australia. DANS provides shortfall subsidies to four domestic commercial airlines to operate flights along the top 50 domestic routes, determined by historical passenger volume (BITRE 2018–19). These destinations include all state and territory capital cities, as well as several regional centres (map below).

By underwriting these key routes, the Government is connecting essential workers across the country, enabling critical freight movement and ensuring the continuation of domestic tourism for Australians. The program first commenced on 16 April 2020 and will provide support through until 31 December 2021.

DANS program top 50 routes map

Airservices Fee Waiver

The waiver of Airservices fees provides a 50 per cent reduction in charges, including charges by the Bureau of Meteorology, for regular public transport (RPT) and aeromedical services. The waiver has been extended to 31 December 2021 and will continue to lessen the operating costs for airlines in providing RPT and aeromedical flights.

COVID Aviation support measures that closed on 31 December 2020

The following two programs, Regional Airlines Funding Assistance (RAFA) and Australian Airline Financial Relief Package (AAFRP), assisted air operators during the most severe period of the pandemic and closed on 31 December 2020.

Regional Airlines Funding Assistance (RAFA)

The Australian Government provided up to $100 million in 2020 to assist smaller regional domestic air operators to manage cash flow issues they may be experiencing as a result of the impacts of the Coronavirus. This supported these service providers to maintain essential connectivity for regional and remote communities. The RAFA program closed on 31 December 2020.

Australian Airline Financial Relief Package (AAFRP)

The Australian Airline Financial Relief Package ran from 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2020. The package of measures included the refunding of aviation fuel excise and domestic aviation security charges and waiving of Airservices Australia fees.

AAFRP reduced the cost base faced by air operators, improving the financial viability of scheduled and commercial flights.

Mandatory Masks

On 8 January 2021 National Cabinet adopted the recommendations of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). Masks are now mandatory in airports and on domestic commercial flights. These new measures are being implemented through public health orders by the states and territories.

COVID-Safe Domestic Flying—Domestic Passenger Journey Protocol

The Australian aviation industry has developed a Domestic Passenger Journey Protocol to provide clear and consistent guidance regarding risk-minimisation principles and processes in domestic airports and on aircraft for domestic passenger travel.

This Protocol will provide guidance for industry members and confidence to the travelling public as domestic air travel increases with the reduction in COVID-19 related restrictions on travel.

Sydney Airport Demand Management Review

The Australian Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of Sydney Airport demand management, following the Productivity Commission's 2019 Inquiry into the Economic Regulation of Airports.

The Review, to be led by the industry-respected Mr Peter Harris AO, presents an opportunity to ensure the regulatory framework continues to meet the current and future needs of the aviation industry, the travelling public and the local community.

International Passenger Arrivals

As of 4 May 2022, the international passenger arrival caps on the number of international passenger arrivals into international airports in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland or South Australia have been removed.

Restrictions on the number of unvaccinated international passenger arrivals remain in place for Western Australia.

Advice for Australians currently overseas is available from the Smartraveller website.

Airlines seeking further information should contact

Keeping goods moving

The Australian Government support for passenger flights is providing much-needed freight capacity to keep goods moving, whether it is moving medical supplies to Australia, getting medicines to regional hospitals within Australia, or delivering time-sensitive agricultural goods, such as seafood, to overseas markets.

To help restore critical global supply chains, a temporary International Freight Assistance Mechanism has been established.  For more information on IFAM and accessing support, please visit the IFAM webpage.

Aviation in Australia

International and domestic aviation connects Australians with each other and with the rest of the world. It is also central to the Australian economy.

The Australian Government, through the department, contributes to the prosperity of the economy and the wellbeing of all Australians by fostering a viable, competitive and safe aviation industry.

The department advises the Government on the policy and regulatory framework for Australian airports and the aviation industry, manages the administration of the Government's interests in privatised airports under the Airports Act 1996, and provides policy advice to the Minister on the efficient management of Australian airspace and on aircraft noise and emissions.

The Australian Government's Women in the Aviation Industry Initiative supports Government and industry working together to encourage more women to pursue careers in the aviation sector.

On 3 December 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP, released the Government's response to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review.

Information about the sunsetting of various regulations administered by the Aviation and Airports Division.

This section provides general information pertinent to the operation of the leased federal airports.

Legislation administered by the Department, which impacts upon the aviation industry.

The Department has completed a regulatory policy review regarding the provision of ARFFS at Australian airports.

The Department has released a public consultation paper with three proposals designed to modernise airspace protection around airports and beyond.

This section provides information on the Australian Airspace Policy Statement, the National Airspace System (NAS), the Airspace Act 2007 and other related documents.

This section provides information on air traffic management policy matters, including the 2012 Air Traffic Management (ATM) Policy Directions Paper and the 2011 Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) Review.

Information on the Government's policies relating to international aviation.

Joint Agency Coordination Centre coordinates all Australian Government support for the search into missing flight MH370.

This section contains information on the environmental issues that relate to the aviation industry and the government's response to those issues.

Information about aviation safety, accident investigation and aviation safety programs.

The Australian Government regulates the security of the Australian aviation environment through the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 to help safeguard Australia's aviation transport system from terrorism and acts of unlawful interference.

General aviation commonly refers to that part of the aviation industry that engages in activity other than scheduled commercial airline activity.

Australians living in remote and isolated areas rely on a weekly air service for the carriage of passengers and goods, including medicines, fresh food and educational materials. Australia Post uses some of the same air operators to deliver mail under separate contracts.

This section contains information on the Remote Air Service Subsidy (RASS) Scheme, the Adelaide and Sydney Airport Noise Insulation Programs, the Enroute Charges Subsidy Scheme and the Remote Aerodromes Safety Program.

The Australian Government recognises the difficulties sometimes experienced by people with disabilities in accessing air travel.

The growth in emerging aviation technologies such as drones, advanced air mobility (AAM) and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles is creating opportunities for new jobs and services.

Information on how the Department is adopting best practice regulation standards in Aviation deregulation.

List of the Department's aviation related publications.