Direct Threat to Tourism Recovery: Morrison's Lack of Support for Aviation Workers

The flight crews that regional airline routes rely on have been left out in the cold during border closures with no financial support. That is the situation for 28 trained flight crew based in Hobart and many hundreds more across the country: 75% of the workforce of one regional airline alone.

As of 16 September, they have all been stood down without pay. They are not eligible for either of the two support programs the federal government has implemented to assist the aviation industry. This is because under the Morrison Liberal Government’s eligibility rules they miss out because the workers are hired through a labour hire provider that services the airline. An airline but not the labour hire provider can access the Retaining Domestic Airline Capability (RDAC) and the Aviation Services Accreditation Support Program (ASAS).

Casual professional cabin crew miss out, despite the fact they wear the same uniform and work alongside direct-hire cabin crew (who do receive the RDAC), and deliver the same service, trained to the same high standard to ensure the safety of passengers on board.

The 28 Hobart workers are also not entitled to access disaster relief payments because they live in Tasmania.

How are they meant to put food on the table?

If those staff get jobs in other industries during their hour of need, what happens to aviation when they are needed on flights again?

When the borders re-open and the Morrison Liberal Government expects things to resume will there be enough trained flight crew?

The union representing these workers, the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA), has written to Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Transport Minister.

The FAAA has not received any response from him to the concerns raised.

This is a real threat to the future of tourism and to the recovery of tourism in Tasmania, let alone a disaster for the affected workers struggling to pay their bills and look after their families.

One Hobart based flight crew member described the financial hardship and the risk to tourism recovery as follows:

Being stood down without pay will have a devastating effect on my family at a time when we are already struggling to make ends meet… Despite budgeting carefully, just a single fortnight without being paid will mean we are unable to cover many of our essential living expenses. And while I have actively been job seeking, there are limited opportunities for short term employment in a State already struggling with a sharp downturn in tourism.

When borders re open and tourists flood back to Tasmania, airlines will play a vital part in delivering tourists and business to our State. This is the spirit of the RDAC, to ensure when it is time to fly, crew are ready to work. 

If either of the federal support packages were amended to include airline crew who are employed through a labour hire company, this would provide vital financial support and ensure we are ready to deliver the essential service of air transport into and out of Tasmania once borders reopen.