The Australian government’s $1.2 billion package to resuscitate the local tourism and aviation sector kicks off today, with 800,000 half-price airline tickets now on sale to 15 regional destinations.

Punters can jump online and book subsidised flights with Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Rex, with Qantas and Jetstar saying the network-wide sale is available for more than 50 destinations across more than 200 routes. Virgin says the airline will put 260,000 half-price economy seats on sale across nine regions and 25 destinations.

The cheap fares are available for travel from April 1 to July 31 to regions such as the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays (including Hamilton Island), the Sunshine Coast, Darwin, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula and Kangaroo Island.

“Most fares are outside peak times, which is when these regions need more tourists to visit. They mean more people will stay in hotels, go to restaurants and book tours, and they also mean we can get more of our people back to work,” Qantas said in a release.

Virgin is advertising flights from Adelaide to Melbourne starting at $69 and the Gold Coast to Sydney from $60. Jetstar is advertising Adelaide to Avalon trips from $32 and Melbourne to Newcastle from $45. Qantas is selling Sydney to Melbourne tickets from $99.

The news comes as Brisbane continues its snap lockdown and organisers of the Byron Bay Blues Festival have been forced to cancel the event over concerns surrounding a Covid cluster in the region.

Queensland-based carrier Virgin says it will continue to participate with the Tourism and Aviation Network Support Program despite the evolving situation in Brisbane. “The airline will push ahead with the half-priced fares to support tourism businesses on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, in Cairns and the Whitsundays. For added peace of mind, Virgin Australia will extend its flexible flying policy to enable customers who book travel under the program the ability to change their booking or cancel to travel credit without fees,” it said in a statement.