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The Australia Government has announced a series of measures to support the aviation industry, which is struggling due to a decrease in customer demand and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The measures include a refund and waiving off a range of fees on the industry, including aviation fuel excise.

The government also lifted air services fees on domestic airline operations, as well as domestic and regional aviation security charges.

Collectively, the steps will relieve the aviation industry from paying nearly A$715m ($429m) in charges. The figure includes an A$159m reimbursement paid by domestic airlines since 1 February.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said: “Our response today demonstrates our commitment to supporting the aviation sector as we put Australia in the best position possible to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.

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“Our airlines run on tight budgets at the best of times and these past few weeks have been particularly tough. I’ve been speaking with Australian airline executives every day and will continue to work with them to make sure they receive the support they need.”

The Covid-19 outbreak has significantly impacted the global aviation sector, forcing several airlines to reduce international as well as domestic operations.

Virgin Australia, one of the largest airlines in the country, also decided to temporarily suspend international services and reduce domestic capacity in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Commenting on the decision, Virgin Australia CEO and managing director Paul Scurrah said: “We have entered an unprecedented time in the global aviation industry, which has required us to take significant action to responsibly manage our business while balancing traveller demands and supporting the wellbeing of Australians.”