Airports hit hard as virus restrictions force slashing of flights

AUSTRALIAN Airports Association (AAA) acting chief executive officer Simon Bourke says Australia’s major airports are dealing with an unprecedented hit to their operations, with aeronautic revenues for the year expected to fall by more than half a billion dollars as a result of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has, and will continue to, hit our income and operations with a severity not seen in this country before,” Mr Bourke said.

Manager of the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, Julie Stewart, confirmed airline service reductions will impact the Ballina Shire Council-owned facility.

“As per the information on Virgin Airlines Newsroom, from midnight tonight, March 27 to June 14, all Virgin services in and out of Ballina Byron Gateway Airport will be suspended,” Ms Stewart said.

“We will continue to liaise with Virgin Airlines for future updates while we work through these temporary service changes.”

Ms Stewart reminds passengers with existing bookings to contact their airline directly for cancellation and rescheduling information.

She said each of the airlines had locations in Australia and overseas to house their grounded aircraft.

“Parking an aircraft is not just a case of parking it in a hangar,” she said.

“These aircraft are worth millions of dollars, so they need to be cared for and ready for the airlines to recommence services with very little start-up maintenance to be done.

“The aircraft safety regulators are very firm on ensuring the aircraft are safe and well maintained when they are returned to service.”

Mr Burke said that in order for airline businesses to recover when these challenges pass, airports must keep building the runways and terminal infrastructure they will need when then industry rebounds.

“The recovery will be strong, just as we’ve seen in the past, and we want to give our partners confidence that we are ready to support them as they rebuild,” he said.

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