"Number of airport workers stood down in Tasmania climbs to 100" - The Mercury

The number of airport workers stood down due to flight cancellations across Tasmania has climbed form 30 to 100 as border closures continue to hurt the tourism sector.

Lyons MP Brian Mitchell told federal parliament on Tuesday it was a disgrace that not one of those baggage handlers and other workers from Hobart and Launceston airports would be eligible for governments aviation support package.

Industry insiders say flights into and out of Tasmania would be grounded in November, December, January and February owing to a local shortage of professional aviation ground operations staff because stood down employees had left the sector.

“An aviation package that doesn’t support airport workers is a sick joke,” Mr Mitchell said.

“These people will, through necessity, find other jobs.

“The cancellation of flights due to not enough workers left on the ground will then cause more disaster for Tasmania’s struggling tourism sector.”

Swissport is one of the companies forced to lay off workers due to flight cancellations and a lack of airport traffic.

Workers are also being stood down from coffee shops and hire car companies at our airports.

“The local aviation industry faces restricted demand in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing border closures,” he said.

“As a critical supplier to the industry at Hobart and Launceston airports, our operations at Swissport are directly affected by these changes. Local flight volumes have dropped dramatically and there is not enough work for our team.”

Swissport is a member of The Australian Aviation Ground Handlers Industry Alliance, which is calling out for an extension to a recent aviation policy initiative.

“Last month, the Federal Government announced a support package which is designed to protect aviation jobs. But only airline staff are eligible, and our staff have been excluded,” he said.

“All aviation ground operations in Tasmania are performed by specialist outsourced providers, which means the local economic recovery this summer could be threatened.

“Tasmanian specialist ground handlers are being denied the same financial support from the government.

“If protection is not extended to all aviation ground operations personnel, it will inevitably mean a large proportion of our workforce will pursue other more financially secure work in the weeks ahead, after almost 18 months of diminished work.

“It will then take at least six months to recruit more workers when state borders reopen, train them up to government standards and have them accredited by the government.”