Government-funded emergency flights send $ 800 million worth of seafood to Asia in an effort to keep Australian exporters alive during the Corona virus crisis.
The cargo planes are part of a $ 170 million export support package and will return with essential medical supplies and equipment to help Australia fight COVID-19.
Under the deal, two hundred flights will depart in the next six months to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates as borders are closed around the world to slow the spread of the disease.
Pictured: Sydney Fish Market in December. The government pays for cargo aircraft to ship $ 800 million worth of seafood overseas to combat the impact of the corona virus
The scheme benefits suppliers who export crayfish, abalone, fresh fish and shrimp and dairy products.
The special flights with 40 tons of product each depart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
It is amid the widespread grounding of fleets by Qantas and Virgin Australia, which prevents exporters from moving their goods abroad.
China’s decision to end overseas trade on January 24 has severely affected the lobster industry in Western Australia, which exports more than 95 percent of its products to the Asian country.
The fall in Chinese demand has caused the price of American lobster to fall to its lowest point in at least four years.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the government’s plan was vital to kick-start Australia’s economic recovery.
Pictured: Medical supplies for COVID-19 testing. The flights are returning with essential equipment to help Australian hospitals fight back against the deadly virus
“We recognize that the current COVID-19 crisis is putting tremendous pressure on Australian exporters, many of whom felt the first and deepest aspects of the economic downturn,” he said.
“To get our export sector back on track, it is crucial to reduce job losses from the crisis and a critical part of the eventual economic recovery.
Necessary public health restrictions are already putting enormous pressure on company viability and job security. We cannot afford to put our farmers, fishermen and exporters under the same pressure just because they cannot get their goods on an airplane. ‘
The director behind the cooperative that heads Western Australia’s largest lobster processing companies said that cutting medical equipment would keep costs down.
“You pay a premium for flying the plane empty, so anything we can get on the freight would be beneficial,” said Matt Rutter of Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative. ABC news.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 4559
New South Wales: 2.032
Western Australia: 364
South Australia: 337
Australian Capital Territory: 80
Northern Territory: 15
TOTAL CASES: 4,559
“Anything we can get back on the freight will help us with the rate.”
Mr. Rutter said he hoped lobster prices would be at least $ 25 per kilo after the charter flights were announced.
The price had climbed to $ 90 per kilogram in January, before dropping to $ 20 this week as the global economy stalled.
Other government attempts to support the fishing industry during the pandemic include waiving $ 10 million in levies for the remainder of 2020.
It follows a video showing that 90 tons of Australian medical supplies are being exported to China just weeks before the crisis hit the pandemic.
The images showed boxes of surgical masks stacked at Perth airport before being sent to Wuhan on February 8 – when there were 15 cases of coronavirus in Australia.
A Chinese real estate company, Risland Australia, was responsible for sending thousands of supplies, news.com.au reported.
The video revealed supplies of white supply boxes stacked next to the check-in counters at the airport.
Pictured: Australian-based Chinese real estate company Risland shipped 90 tons of essential medical supplies from Perth to Wuhan on February 8
The stockpiles picked up were almost shoulder-height of passing travelers, and were scattered on trollies and several meters across the floor.
Risland said in an online post last month that “90 tons of selective medical supplies” were shipped by “air transportation directly from Sydney to Wuhan via a business jet.”
A photo showed four workers in a warehouse full of thousands of boxes of protective clothing and with a Chinese sign up.
In the post, Risland said, “Run such a campaign to show our faith in the people of Wuhan and our ultimate appreciation for those who work days and nights fighting the virus at the front.”