Australian Airports Association wants the subsidised airfare program extended

The Australian Airports Association is calling on the federal government to consider extending its subsidised airfare program in a bid to encourage more people to travel.

A survey of 500 people in April found 70 per cent would change their travel plans for a subsidised destination.

AAA chief executive James Goodwin said it showed the funding initiative, which was launched in April and offered 800,000 seats, had worked.

“The tourism aviation network support program has helped fill aircraft seats and significantly increased foot traffic through many of the nation’s airports, which continue to do it tough due to snap border closures and next to no international air travel,” Mr Goodwin said.

The Australian Airports Association wants the federal government to extend its subsidised airfare program.Source:Supplied

“Given the success of the program, the government should consult with the tourism and aviation sectors, and consider extending the half-price tickets to other destinations, many of which missed out on the first round of the program.

“Our consumer research found that around three in four people whose savings have increased during the pandemic are planning on spending these extra funds on domestic travel, which means the demand is there.”

According to the data, the main reason people were flying was to visit family and friends (48 per cent) or go on a holiday (43 per cent), followed by business travel (33 per cent).

“Online meetings served a purpose at height of the pandemic, but nothing beats seeing your colleagues, stakeholders or business partners in person,” Mr Goodwin said.

“Heading back to the major cities for work via our airports will help to fill CBD hotels and provide a major boost to cafes and restaurants which are reeling from thousands of people still working from home.”

The survey involved 500 people.Source:Supplied

Meanwhile, the risk of snap border closures was the biggest obstacle to interstate travel, with 61 per cent of respondents saying it had hindered their plans.

About two-thirds of people said they would fly to New Zealand under the trans-Tasman safe travel zone, while almost 80 per cent said they wanted more international travel bubbles.

“Our research suggests there is high-level support among the travelling public for a cautious and planned approach to broadening the scope for international travel,” Mr Goodwin said.

“The top priority is to keep Australians safe, but people also want to reconnect with family and friends and the economy.”

It comes amid growing pressure on the federal government to reopen the international border sooner than mid next year, as the federal budget papers suggested.

Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka has likened COVID-19 to the flu and says she wants the international border to reopen soon — even if it means “some people may die” from the virus.

“We will become sick with COVID and it won’t put us in hospital, and it won’t put people into dire straits because we’ll have a vaccine,” she told a business lunch in Brisbane on Monday.

. Picture: Supplied by Marise Payne’s officeSource:Supplied

“Some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu.

“We’re forgetting the fact that we’ve learnt how to live with lots of viruses and challenges over the years and we’ve got to learn how to live with this.”

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said the international border should not reopen until most people in the country were vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who refused were at least educated about the risks.

“We can’t keep international borders and other things locked down forever because some people refuse to get vaccinated,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“Once Australians are broadly vaccinated, once we educate everyone about the benefits of it, once we tell people what is going to happen in the future about whatever the border arrangements might be internationally in particular, and give them the opportunity to get vaccinated, at that point in time we can look to further opening internationally.

“In terms of interstate borders, of course the state always will reserve the right — and the High Court has said we have the right — to put them (hard borders) in place (if needed).”

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