A Virgin Airlines plane and a Qantas plane. Picture: Evan Morgan
A Virgin Airlines plane and a Qantas plane. Picture: Evan Morgan

MP urges airline bail out to save thousands of Mackay jobs

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison needs to take urgent action to ensure the future of Virgin Airlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, says Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert.

But Dawson MP George Christensen has put forward his own plan to save the struggling airliner, suggesting the government could step in to purchase Virgin if it folded.

Mrs Gilbert said a bail out was required to protect thousands of local jobs.

“Competition in the airline market is crucial to our tourism industry,” she said.

“If Virgin Airlines goes bust due to the coronavirus outbreak, the cost of flights to Mackay will surge.

“This will threaten thousands of local jobs. That’s why I’m calling on the Federal Government to provide urgent support to Virgin Airlines.”

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert.
Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert.

Mr Christensen said a government acquisition of the airline would be more sensible than a bail out.

“If the circumstances are that it’s going to fold, then I suggest the government takes it over and continues running it until normality is resumed among air services and then sell the airline after that,” he said.

“That’s my personal view on the matter and what I would be pushing the Federal Government to do.”

Mr Christensen said the Federal Government had already provided $1 billion in support for the aviation industry, with almost $200 million of that to help airlines continue domestic routes in regional areas.

The Daily Mercury also contacted Mr Morrison’s office for comment.