The Australian Government recognises the important role that aviation plays in servicing the needs of regional and remote communities across Australia and operates a number of programs to support this.
In the 2019-20 Budget, the Australian Government committed $100 million over four years to 2023-24 to the Regional Airports Program, a competitive grants program intended to:
- improve the safety of aircraft, operators and passengers using regional airports or aerodromes
- facilitate improved delivery of essential goods and services such as food supplies, health care and passenger air services
- improve the connectivity of Australia’s regions to domestic and global market opportunities
- meet the operational requirements of aeromedical and other emergency services in the region.
On 28 July 2021, the Deputy Prime Minister announced $29.6 million in Australian Government funding for 89 projects under round two of the Regional Airports Program.
Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP)
The RAAP provides support for remote aviation where it is not commercially viable but is essential for the social and economic wellbeing of the communities they serve. The RAAP consists of the following individual programs:
- the Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) Scheme;
- the Remote Aerodrome Upgrade program; and
- the Remote Aerodrome Inspection program.
See the program guidelines PDF: 565 KB
The Remote Airstrip Upgrade (RAU) Program is a competitive grants program and provides funding for upgrades to remote airstrips. This funding continues the Australian Government's commitment to improving the safety of remote air transport and the access of residents to essential goods and services, including urgent medical care.
The Australian Government has released the guidelines for Round 9 of the Remote Airstrip Upgrade (RAU) Program, with applications opening on 3 February 2022.
The RASS Scheme subsidises a regular air transport service for the carriage of passengers and goods such as educational materials, medicines, fresh foods and other urgent supplies to communities in remote and isolated areas of Australia.
Remote Aerodrome Inspection (RAI) Program
The RAI program provides identified remote Indigenous communities with annual inspections and related services to assist those communities to meet their aviation safety obligations.
The Airservices Australia Enroute Charges Payment Scheme
The Airservices Australia Enroute Charges Payment Scheme provides a subsidy to air operators providing aeromedical services to regional and remote locations through a reimbursement of enroute air navigation charges levied by Airservices Australia.
The Scheme is not operating at present due to the range of other assistance the Australian Government is providing to the aviation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Regional aviation refers to that part of the aviation industry that engages in scheduled commercial airline activity between regional areas or between regional areas and capital cities. Traditionally, regional aviation services have been identified as those airlines performing regular public transport services and whose fleets contain exclusively low capacity aircraft (38 seats or less or with a payload of 4,200 kilograms or less). However, Australia's regional airlines now commonly use larger aircraft. Some regional areas are also serviced by jet aircraft operated by major domestic airlines.
The Australian Constitution gives state and territory governments power over regional aviation as it is largely an issue of intra-state trade. Licensing of intra-state aviation services is administered respectively by:
- New South Wales—Transport New South Wales
- Queensland—Department of Transport and Main Roads
- South Australia—Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
- Western Australia—Government of Western Australia Department of Transport
Intra-state air services in Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are deregulated.