The Federal Government will support Virgin Australia and Qantas to keep flying domestic routes during the coronavirus travel restrictions.
The government will underwrite the cost of some flights to all capital cities and around a dozen regional centres over the next two months.
The new $165 million funding comes in addition to other money given to keep a few international routes operating.
Virgin Australia will use the funding to run flights between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth, enabling it to reinstate 200 staff, including pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.
“As a major Australian airline, we are proud to support the Federal Government in returning passengers home and enabling essential travellers to continue flying during this time,” Virgin said in a statement.
Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the initial run of flights would be reviewed after eight weeks.
“As Australians are asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary, we are ensuring secure and affordable access for passengers who need to travel, including our essential workers such as frontline medical personnel and defence personnel, as well as supporting the movement of essential freight such as critical medicine and personal protective equipment,” McCormack said.
“We know that a strong domestic aviation network is critical to Australia’s success and today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment, yet again, to maintaining connectivity during this pandemic.
“This investment will also help Australians returning from overseas, who find themselves in a different city after 14 days of mandatory quarantine, complete their journey home safely.”