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Qantas to help provide $3m as part of drought package

Sydney Morning Herald logo Sydney Morning Herald 9/08/2018 Julie Power

Video provided by Nine News

Qantas has pledged to raise $3 million - with as much as $2 million in cash coming directly from the airline - for drought-stricken farmers across Australia.

Its employees will also provide direct help to farms that could see aviation engineers fly in to fix a tractor or ground crew volunteer to repair fencing.

Under a new drought relief package that was announced early Friday morning, Qantas will give $1 million in cash immediately to Rural Aid.

Under the next stage of the campaign, Qantas and its subsidiary, Jetstar, will hold fundraising initiatives to encourage some of its millions of passengers to give another $1 million.

If it reaches that target, the company has committed to matching it with another $1 million in cash by the end of 2018.

John and Zanthe Atkinson know first-hand how hard it is during a drought. © Brent Winstone John and Zanthe Atkinson know first-hand how hard it is during a drought. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the worsening drought had prompted the airline to quickly develop a new support package for regional Australia.

“Qantas started in the outback," he said. "Many of our crew live there and we have a lot of farming families who supply everything from beef to broccoli that we serve passengers. We feel we have a duty to help these communities who are doing it so tough,” said Mr Joyce.

As part of its fundraising efforts, Qantas plans to host charter flights to Longreach and Tamworth in October.

Qantas would also support employees who wanted to volunteer for Rural Aid's farm rescue program by fixing homes or fences, for instance. Passengers on Qantas and Jetstar flights would also be able to donate their Frequent Flyer points to farmers.

A Qantas domestic cabin crew Zanthe Atkinson, who lives on a farm outside of Tamworth, plans to volunteer because of her own experience.

“Most of the farming families have no choice but to rely solely on farm income and for a lot of them, there hasn’t been any income for years. We can’t make it rain but we can at least do our bit to help get them another day closer to the drought breaking,” she said.

Ms Atkinson said her husband was hand-feeding their stock to keep them alive.

Visit Drought SOS: For more news, information and how to help Australian farmers.

Pictures: The Wider Image: Australia's drought - the cancer eating away at farms

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