Virgin Australia & Qantas offering air freight capacity on international flights

Virgin Australia & Qantas offering air freight capacity on international flights

To support Australian exporters, Qantas and Virgin Australia are offering air freight capacity on repatriation international passenger services to Auckland, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and London, from Thursday 9 April 2020 – giving Australian producers a way to obtain valuable inputs for their businesses. 

The return flights to Australia will bring in vital medicines, medical supplies and equipment to support Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The confirmed international flights will operate for approximately 4 weeks on the following routes:


Origin Destination Days of Operation


HKG Weds, Sat
MEL HKG Mon, Fri
MEL LHR (via PER)  Sun
MEL AKL Mon, Sun
BNE AKL Thurs, Sat



Origin Destination Days of operation
BNE HKG Mon, Fri
HKG BNE Tues, Sat


Additional Freight-only Flights

In addition to the above, 55 commercial freight-only flights have been scheduled during April, a total of 540 services for this month.

Contact your Freight Forwarder

To access these flights, contact your standard freight operations and freight forwarder.

For more informaton regarding the repatriation flights, contact:

Qantas: email freightsalessupport@qantas.com.au

Virgin Australia: email syd.cargosales@fly.virgin.com

Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19

Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19

Media Release 4 April 2020

The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government is making temporary changes to visa arrangements to help farmers access the workforce they need to secure Australia’s food and produce supply during COVID-19.  

The changes allow those within the Pacific Labour Scheme, Seasonal Worker Program and working holiday makers to continue to work in agriculture and food processing until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Government was protecting the health of Australians by supporting businesses, providing job opportunities and securing our food supply. 

“We can’t afford to see fruit rotting on trees and vines and vegetables left unpicked. It is vital our farmers maximise their hard work and economic returns,” Minister McCormack said. 

“We are acting to enable seasonal workers to extend their stay and remain lawfully in Australia until they are able to return to their home countries.

“The agriculture sector relies on an ongoing workforce and we are committed to providing the means for that to continue while ensuring strict health and safety measures are adhered to, including visa holders following self-isolation requirements when they move between regions.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said workforce requirements for agriculture change within and across states as different crops are ready for harvest.

“It is essential for our food security that workers can move to meet these seasonal labour needs,” Minister Littleproud said.

“At the same time it is critical we manage this labour force to support the on-going health of regional communities.

“We are working closely with State and Territory Governments and industry to ensure appropriate health controls are in place for the ongoing health and well-being of our regional communities.”

There are tough rules to ensure that COVID-19 is not transported to regional and rural communities that have thankfully not experienced the same level transmission. 

Before moving to other parts of the country, working holiday makers will need to self-isolate for 14 days and register at the Australia.gov.au website.  Those who do not comply will face having their visas cancelled. 

The National Farmers Federation has developed best practice guidance for farmers regarding requirements for the living and working arrangements for farm workers (either domestic or migrant) during the covid-19 outbreak.

“We have asked the Chief Medical Officer to review these guidelines and it is critical that they are then considered by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Sadly, there’s been a significant number of Australians who’ve lost their jobs due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“I know some farmers have seen strong interest from job ads and we are keeping market testing requirements in place to ensure recruitment of Australians first.

“We are well positioned with the decisions we’ve taken today to ensure that critical industries, such as agriculture, are well supported during this time and that Australia remains positioned to produce the food we need.”

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said agriculture is an essential sector and it relies on temporary visa holders, many who arrive and depart Australia on a seasonal basis.

“These visa holders fill a critical workforce gap in this sector,” Minister Tudge said.

“That is why the Government is putting temporary measures in place to allow important work in the agriculture sector to continue. 

“We are giving certainty to our agriculture workforce so they can get food from farms to our shops and ensure critical services continue.”

The conditions under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme visa arrangements will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the strong links between Pacific seasonal workers and their employers.

These changes complement and are in addition to additional measures for temporary visa holders announced by Minister Tudge.

Key Facts

  • Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers (ensuring pastoral care and accommodation needs of workers are met to minimise health risks to visa holders and the community).
  • Approved employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme will need to continue engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure recruitment of Australians first.
  • Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
  • Conditions will be placed upon visa holders to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up employment in a different region (including termination of visas where there is non-compliance).
  • To support implementation of self-isolation arrangements for visa holders and avoid spread of COVID-19 the government is working with states and territories on enforcement and sanction mechanisms.
  • Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.
  • Arrangement will also need to be in place for a declaration between employers and employees that all protocols necessary to ensure human health and accommodation requirements have been met.
Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19

Help for the Child Care sector and parents

Media Release 2 April 2020

The Minister for Agriculture Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud has welcomed the Federal Government’s Early Childhood Education and Care Relief package announced today.

Minister Littleproud said we want to keep as many of the sectors 13,000 child care and early learning services as possible to stay open, especially those in regional Australia.

“This is so their businesses survive, their workers have jobs and parents have the peace of mind that they too can go to work knowing their children are safe,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This has been an uncertain time for the sector with enrolment and attendance heading south with the COVID-19 crisis.

“The relief package will mean the child care sector can offer their services for free when used in conjunction with the JobKeeper payment.

“For those on the frontline in country towns, they now have the comfort in knowing that their children will be cared for when they go to work.

“It’s important that nurses, ambos and police can continue to keep their community safe and well.

“We need to support as many jobs as possible in rural and regional Australia so their economies keep going.

“This relief package part of the Government’s strategy to save lives and livelihoods and is another section of the bridge that will take us to the other side of this crisis.

Child care services seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Information is also available from: https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19

Australian Government Launches ‘Jobs Hub’ to support Australian businesses and jobseekers

Australian Government Launches ‘Jobs Hub’ to support Australian businesses and jobseekers

Jobs Hub is a new initiative launched by the Australian Government to support Australian businesses and jobseekers who have been adversly affected by COVID-19.

The employment program lists 26,000 available public and private jobs including vacancies in health and care sectors, transport and logistics, areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, agriculture and government sectors, and many more.

Access Jobs Hub and search for vacancies here.

Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19

Securing Freight Access for Australian Agricultural & Fisheries Exporters

Media Release 1 April 2020

A new $110 million initiative will back Australia’s agricultural and fisheries sector by helping them export their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

In addition, around $10 million in Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) levies will also be waived for all Commonwealth fishers, ensuring they do not have to pay Commonwealth levies for the remainder of 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the International Freight Assistance Mechanism would help secure freight flights into Australia’s key export markets.

“This will help restore key freight routes for our farmers until commercial capacity can be restored again,” Mr McCormack said.

“We are doing everything possible to help our high-value agricultural and fisheries exporters get their produce on airplanes and into overseas markets.

“Everything we are doing as a Government in response to this pandemic is focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and we know our agriculture industry is key to this.”

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to major air freight shortages and had disrupted supply chains around the world.

“This temporary action will help Australian producers to protect the jobs of those who rely upon Australia’s export of safe, quality food into the world,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Getting our export sector back on its feet is crucial to reduce job losses through the crisis and a critical part of the ultimate economic recovery.

“By getting flights off the ground, full of Australian produce, we’re supporting our farmers and fishers who have been hit hard by this crisis.”

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said this initiative would focus on high-demand agricultural and fisheries exports who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re backing our farmers by making sure they can get more of their high-quality product into overseas markets,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The more agricultural exports we can secure, the more regional jobs we can protect.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the freight assistance and levy relief was a lifeline for Australian fishers.

“The fishing industry was one of the first hit when access to China was cut off in January, bringing many in the industry to their knees,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“Unlocking key international markets will get thousands of fishers, divers, deckhands and processors back on the job, and the levy relief will help to keep fishers financially afloat.

“Our seafood industry has been built on the back of some of the toughest and most resilient Australians, and this assistance will ensure that the sector can build a bridge to recovery.”

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will initially focus on the key markets of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE, with four key departure hubs: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

It will be overseen by Mr Michael Byrne, who has been appointed as the International Freight Coordinator General. Mr Byrne has significant international logistics experience as Managing Director of Australia’s two largest logistics companies Toll Holdings and Linfox plus as a nonexecutive director of Australia Post.

Mr Byrne will work with Austrade to help establish arrangements with exporters, airlines, freight forwarders and industry bodies plus oversee the mechanism’s operations including advising the Government of destinations, freight selection and prioritisation.

The initiative is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Further details are available in the International Freight Assistance Mechanism Fact Sheet.

Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19

Wage subsidy gives security to business and workers

Media Release 30 March 2020

The Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud has welcomed the decision by the government to provide subsidies to Australian businesses to keep our nation’s workers employed.

Minister Littleproud said this job keeper payment will protect lives and livelihoods at a time of crisis.

“In particular, it will give great comfort to those in regional and rural Australia where businesses have been hit hard and their workers are worried about their future.

“Those that earn their crust in the agricultural sector will have security in knowing that the Government has their employers’ back.

“Local ag supply stores that have experienced a 30 per cent business downturn will be eligible for the wage subsidy.

“Wineries that have lost out because of the big tourism drop-off will be able to keep their workers on.

“We will emerge from this crisis unified and stronger as a result of the security this announcement will give employees and employers.

“The $130 billion package spread over the next 6 months is being committed to keep Australian businesses ticking over and keep money in their workers’ wallets.

“Those eligible businesses can back date their claims to the 1st March 2020.

“The Federal Government will remain calm in this COVID-19 crisis and continue to build that bridge to recovery.”