State Development minister Cameron Dick announced a $200 million national support package to help get Virgin get back in the skies, and he called on other states and the Federal Government to chip in. Photo: Darren England
State Development minister Cameron Dick announced a $200 million national support package to help get Virgin get back in the skies, and he called on other states and the Federal Government to chip in. Photo: Darren England

$200 million bid to keep Virgin flying to Mackay

A BAILOUT of Virgin could have direct cost savings for Mackay travellers as the State Government launches its campaign to keep the airline flying.

State Development minister Cameron Dick said it was imperative Australia had two airlines, to support tourism, jobs and regional investment.

"Airlines around the world are struggling," Mr Dick said.

"If we lose a big national carrier there is no guarantee that a new carrier will pick up where Virgin took off.

"Virgin benefits regional communities in our state. It benefits our tourism industry, which is in such a terrible state at the moment.

"But it will benefit the resources industry and it will benefit communities all up and down the Queensland coast, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, who all benefit from Virgin."

And regional areas with less competition could be hardest hit if Virgin went down, Mr Dick said.

Travellers in areas with only one airline could be slapped with ticket prices between 20-25 per cent more expensive than areas with competition, Mr Dick said.

"We want to keep the air fair," he said.

"To have competition means prices are lower."

The loss of competition could impact the viability of many tourism businesses already smashed by the coronavirus crisis.

State Development minister Cameron Dick said it was imperative Australia had two airlines, to support tourism, jobs and regional investment. Photo: Jono Searle
State Development minister Cameron Dick said it was imperative Australia had two airlines, to support tourism, jobs and regional investment. Photo: Jono Searle

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But Mr Dick said tourism would not be the only industry hurt, with freight and the resource sector also hit by increased travel costs.

Today, Mr Dick announced a $200 million national support package to help get Virgin get back in the skies, and he called on other states and the Federal Government to chip in.

"Queensland has given Australia both our national airlines. We won't let them go, or let thousands of families watch their jobs go, without a fight," he said.

"But we can't do it alone, and nor should we, because all parts of Australia benefit from two national airlines."

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said it was time for the Federal Government to "stumped up some cash".

"I've been fighting from day one to keep Virgin flights," Mrs Gilbert said. 

"(The) $200 million rescue package gives us a fighting chance to save Virgin, which is just so important for Mackay."

Mr Dick said the Queensland Government's support was conditional on Federal Government backing, Virgin restructuring its debt, shareholders and bond holders doing their bit, and the airline's headquarters remaining in Brisbane and ongoing regional flights.

The State Government is not the only party eyeing the struggling airline, with Chinese Government-owned airlines China Southern Airlines, China East Airlines and Air China reportedly considering an offer.

"We know other investors are looking at Virgin too," Mr Dick said.

"Our message to potential investors is that we are prepared to put money on the line to keep a national carrier based in Queensland."


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