The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) is seeking an additional subsidy of NT$5 billion (US$175.9 million) to sustain the nation’s international airlines, which are still struggling to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since February last year, the government has given out a total of NT$16.47 billion in relief funds to help the carriers, whose operations have been severely disrupted by government-imposed restrictions on air travel to contain the spread of COVID-19, the ministry said yesterday.
As the threat has not eased and as the one-year relief program expires at the end of this month, it is necessary for the government to allocate more money, it added.
The additional funds would help more than 300 airlines and airport business operators, and sustain 10,000 workers at airports, it said.
In February, the Legislative Yuan passed the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Restoration (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), which the government is to enforce until June 30 this year.
As such, the ministry is seeking to secure about NT$5 billion more in relief funds in the hopes that the money would sustain the airline industry for another six months.
The Executive Yuan would make a final decision on the matter after examining how different government agencies have been using the relief funds given to them to see if there is any more funding for the transport ministry’s proposal, it said.
Part of the relief funds for the airline industry was used to help carriers with fees for landing aircraft, leasing government-owned properties and housing, and using aircraft maintenance hangars, the ministry said.
The rest was given to duty-free shops or other business operators at airports, as well as ground and airline catering service operators, to cover their expenses, the ministry said, adding that employees hired by these companies received additional subsidies as part of their salaries.
The ministry also secured a government-backed business loan of NT$50 billion for the airline industry last year and a one-year subsidy to cover the interest accrued from the loan.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) last year said that an additional NT$25 billion government-backed loan had also been requested.
It awaits the Executive Yuan’s approval.
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