The Morrison government is providing $198 million in support to regional airlines struggling through the coronavirus crisis, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has announced.
A further $100 million will also be available to smaller regional airlines should they need it during an unprecedented downturn in aviation activity.
This brings the government's total commitment to the aviation sector to over $1 billion.
"Regional aviation has been smashed by COVID-19," the Nationals leader told reporters in Wagga Wagga, NSW, on Saturday.
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He said air services are needed now more than ever to connect regional Australia to freight, medical testing, supplies and essential personnel.
"Everything we are doing as a government in response to COVID-19 is focused on saving lives and livelihoods," Mr McCormack said.
He said there are 26,000 people employed in the regional aviation sector that is worth billions of dollars to rural communities.
This week Virgin Australia announced more than 1000 of its 8000 workers that have been asked to take leave will probably be made redundant.
This included all of its 220 Tigerair pilots.
Mr McCormack ruled out nationalising struggling airlines.
"It is not the government's intention to nationalise airlines," he said.
"We want them to continue to be commercial operations.. We want the aviation sector to come out the other side as best it can."