Virgin, Qantas workers need extra supports

Aviation workers are calling for the federal government to urgently detail targeted supports to keep the sector in flight.

Virgin Australia has been sold to Bain Capital on Friday, a day after Qantas announced 6000 job losses because of the coronavirus.

Bain says it is determined to return the airline to offering Australians access to competitive, viable aviation services for the long term.

But a senior federal minister has warned Bain to brace for a hard landing in Australia’s shrunken aviation market.

“I don’t think that it’s any surprise to anyone that the outlook for the aviation sector is going to be a challenge for some time,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has been in discussions with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over further support to the ailing sector.

The Transport Workers Union says workers need the certainty of wage subsidies plus extra support.

“The federal government has to move out of the shadows on aviation,” national secretary Michael Kaine told reporters.

Mr Morrison had offered his regrets to sacked Qantas workers, but Mr Kaine responded: “We don’t need regrets extended, we need JobKeeper extended.”

He pointed out other countries including Germany, Hong Kong and the Netherlands were pumping billions of dollars into aviation.

ACTU head Michele O’Neil said the government had to play its part in keeping the industry viable with international borders staying closed in the foreseeable future.

“We once again call on the Morrison government to stop favouring one airline executive in their communication and commitments and give every aviation worker certainty by urgently confirming the extension of JobKeeper and announcing a package of assistance for the industry,” she said.

Mr Morrison said his government had always been aware targeted support would be needed in the areas hit harder by the pandemic and shutdowns needed to contain the virus.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham conceded it would take extraordinary measures to deal with the extent of the recession.

“(Aviation and tourism) were the first into it and they will probably be the last out of it, particularly when it comes to international aviation,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“So yes, we’re working through what type of additional support is necessary.”

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