Rex has announced that it will suspend or “significantly reduce” services impacted by state border closures and lockdowns.
The airline has yet to release a list of the specific routes affected, but it has stated that it will affect its regional and domestic networks in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania.
Customers are being urged to visit rex.com.au/Coronavirus/CovidBookingChanges.aspx to apply to receive a full refund.
It comes after deputy chairman John Sharp revealed last week that current COVID restrictions had forced him to close 80% of his business.
In an interview with CNBC, he stated, “If we don’t do something for airlines, there won’t be too many left at the end of this.”
“It’s devastating to see the impact. It’s really knocked out most of our business”.
“We’ll lose revenue, and we’ll have people we’ll have to pay people who we can’t generate income from. We’re back to where we were at the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
“Unless government are prepared to assist business, a lot of business will close. If this NSW lockdown continues for any length of time, it’s been suggested it could be for up to six weeks, government assistance will be needed.
“Governments have to start floating people’s boats again. If governments want to keep an industry alive, they’re going to have to help us. No airline can keep paying people when you don’t generate the revenue to keep employing them.”
Earlier this month, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said that aviation businesses had so far held back from standing down workers but the situation would “inevitably” change if restrictions rumbled on.
“People are currently working on ordinary hours,” said Kaine. “But for many in aviation, that itself is hard because they’re not getting the overtime and overnight allowances that they’ve become accustomed to.
“Clearly, casuals and part-timers will be used as a minimum, so they’re already suffering.
“But in terms of stand down, they haven’t been triggered yet. We had some pre-meetings with companies, which we are working with to attempt to avoid that.
“But it’s going to be an inevitability, particularly if the New South Wales situation doesn’t improve.”
Kaine said there are already calls in a couple of companies for staff to take unpaid leave.
“That means workers are going to be left to the vagaries of any potential social security system with no dedicated aviation payment,” he added.
By Joe Cusmano