Aviation issues paper flags lighter regulatory touch for airports

Greater local decision-making on council-owned aerodromes may help strengthen regional aviation after Covid-19 restrictions are eased, the Commonwealth says.

In an issues paper addressing longer-term policy and reform options to be implemented over the next five years, the federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications also suggests a more strategic and coordinated approach to regional airport funding could improve connectivity and essential service delivery.

The paper invites input on how airports transferred to local governments under the Aerodrome Local Ownership Plan (ALOP) may be managed in a more flexible way, with support improved and the financial burden on councils reduced.

Other areas of inquiry include ensuring regional airport funding meets key priorities and is handled in a coordinated and targeted way, and exploring ways to streamline regulation addressing federally leased airports.

Noting there were challenges in the aviation sector before Covid-19, particularly in regional Australia The Future of Australia’s Aviation Sector: Flying to Recovery issues paper says that while one in three Australians live, work, and study in regional areas, many regional air routes, airlines, and airports struggle to remain financially viable.

“As a result, many regional communities do not enjoy the same level of air service, air ticket price competition and flexibility as those in Australia’s cities.

“Like other industries, aviation also faces the ongoing challenges of shifting global economic conditions, changing consumer demands and technological disruption.

“Covid-19 has affected charter flights and General Aviation (GA) differently but poses a challenge across all these industries.

“The aviation sector, as well as the Commonwealth, state, territory and local governments, will need to make significant decisions about the future of air routes and airports, especially in regional Australia.”

Feedback on the issues paper can be made up until COB 13 November. Questions about submissions may be directed to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications:

Email: aviationconsultation@infrastructure.gov.au or phone: 02 6274 7015.