Nationals Senator, Fiona Nash, said it’s disappointing that nothing is being done to determine the likely impact of the carbon tax on regional airlines.
Senator Nash today asked department officials at the Rural Affairs and Transport estimates hearing if they were looking at the likely cumulative impacts of the carbon tax on regional aviation when it comes into effect next July.
They replied that no comprehensive review has been done, only that of trends in passenger numbers and airline services.
It’s despite Regional Express (REX) airlines saying the impost on aviation fuel would cost the company $2 million in the first year and that it may have to consider stopping flights to six NSW towns.
Chief operating officer Chris Hine told the Australian newspaper the carbon tax, the removal of the en-route rebate scheme and increased security screening at regional airports would add about $6 million a year in costs.
"I foresee many regional operators without the financial strength and diversification of Rex being forced out of business once these take effect after July 1, 2012. Those surviving will have to cut back on marginal routes to remain in business." (Source: The Australian, 12 July 2011)
Regional Aviation Association of Australia head Paul Tyrrell accused the government taxing an industry that’s unable to afford it.
"The PM claims the carbon tax is aimed at big polluters, but the regional aviation industry contributes about 0.2 per cent of the nation's total carbon emissions." (Source: The Australian, 12 July 2011)
Aerial Agriculture Association of Australia executive director Phil Hurst said farmers' certification requirements on engines made it difficult for members to reduce their carbon footprint by switching fuels.
"We are literally between a rock and a hard place. We can't change our behaviour, the government knows that, so that makes this just a tax on aviation." (Source: The Australian, 12 July 2011)
Aviation industry officials also warned emergency and agricultural aviation services would be hard hit by the tax.
“Even the major carriers like Qantas are saying they have no choice but to pass on the cost of the carbon tax to passengers of up to $7 for a return trip. Yet the government insists the cost to airfares will be small,” Senator Nash said.
“The fact is a carbon tax on aviation fuel will increase airfares, affecting domestic and regional tourism.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t register with this government. If and when it does, it will be too late.”
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