In a nation with such large distances between major centres, and that is so geographically isolated from the rest of the world, Australia is and will remain for the foreseeable future reliant on aviation to bridge the tyranny of distance. That is what makes aviation so central to the national economy. It moves people for business and leisure, facilitates our tourism industry, and moves high value freight.
As the Green Paper outlines, the industry has faced truly historic challenges over the last three years, with the closure of both national and then state borders directly impacting the ability for the industry to operate. BITRE data shows that domestic traffic is only now just reaching pre-pandemic levels, while international traffic is still rebounding, and will likely return to pre-COVID levels by mid-2024.
The government must ensure that aviation continues its recovery from the COVID pandemic as a strong, viable industry for the benefit of the nation. There are clearly areas where government regulation, such as airport constraints like curfews and movement caps, need to be revisited and reformed to help this and to deliver productivity dividends without significant cost to taxpayers.
There are also emerging challenges such as decarbonisation that will need to be tackled, particularly for a country which is dependent on air travel for tourism and trade. These challenges however come with opportunities for Australia as the world moves to a low carbon future. The current labour market also presents challenges in attracting and retaining highly skilled talent, a global issue that is impacting the industry. Areas of broader public policy being pursued by the government around migration reform and education and training are likely to play an important role in the sector and are generally supported by business.