The 2021-22 budget sees millions going to the aviation industry, with little of it likely to be contingent on environmental improvements or emissions reduction.
The $1.8 billion package over four years to support aviation and tourism includes subsidising domestic airfares, helping domestic airports cover the cost of security requirements, and supporting Australian passenger airlines to ‘retain flight ready crews’ in preparation for international travel.
Additionally, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications are playing the ‘commercial sensitivities’ card, so the cost to taxpayers of the Domestic Aviation Network Support and the Tourism Aviation Network Support programs won’t be made public.
According to Australia Institute research, the pandemic response seriously impacted Australia’s domestic aviation and road emissions but it didn’t take long until they returned to past levels. Internationally, the pandemic was used as an excuse to water-down the main international agreement for mitigating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from international civil aviation –CORSIA, reducing the incentive for airlines to curb emissions.
The OEDC recommends government support for airlines be made contingent on environmental improvements in order to promote a sustainable pathway for the aviation industry. Any airline stimulus packages should require airlines to reduce emissions in the future and meet the commitments of the CORSIA agreement. So far, Australia does not appear to be heeding this advice.