A new report has warned that international and domestic border closures are costing the country a massive $319 million a day.
According to the Business Council of Australia, the shutdown of domestic travel has put a $17 billion hole in the economy over the last seven months.
The lack of international travel has cost the economy $61 billion.
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The report has also found that 34,000 people have been affected by job losses as a result of the aviation industry shutdown.
“Every day flights remain grounded costs Australia $69 million or $2.1 billion a month. When you add in international aviation losses at $250 million a day or $7.6 billion per month we are talking about an enormous hit to our economy,” Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
Passenger numbers have plunged by an average of 89 per cent across the country but are down as much as 91 per cent on some of the busiest routes in the country including Sydney-Melbourne, Brisbane-Sydney, Adelaide-Melbourne and Canberra-Melbourne.
The Business Council is urging political leaders to come up with a firm timeline to restart domestic travel.
“We are not asking for a free for all – we need a highly-targeted, careful and gradual reopening of the economy based on health advice with robust nationally consistent systems in place for departures and arrivals, quarantining, local containment, and digital tracking and tracing.
“We are calling on the National Cabinet to announce a plan for domestic travel before December. Getting Australians flying again before Christmas would be a social and economic gift to the country, delivering an additional $3.3 billion.”
Ms Westacott says Australia also needs to start planning a roadmap to resume international travel with major uncertainty about when the country’s borders will be reopened.
“International aviation generates about $100 billion a year in export revenue and supports about 515,000 jobs across the country.
“Putting a nationally agreed plan in place for international travel will allow us to ramp up this critical sector once we get the green light.
“International aviation delivers enormous economic benefits to the country that cannot be replaced by other sectors. It is vital to our recovery; we have to make it strong and viable.
“International students arriving by air support 240,000 jobs in the country and education exports are worth $40.3 billion.
The Business Council warns that Australia may never fully recover if leaders don’t start planning a reopening soon.
“We can’t afford to be left behind and miss out on opportunities to establish safe travel corridors with other low-risk countries who have also managed the virus well. This would generate $20.5 billion for Australia over a 12-month period.
“This is not a temporary problem for Australia. If we fail to begin carefully reopening, we will lose our international competitiveness and ability to attract investment and talent.’’