Dig­gers fly­ing high

Air­line hon­ours our vet­er­ans

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - EXCLUSIVE RENEE VIELLARIS renee.viellaris@news.com.au

MIL­I­TARY vet­er­ans will board planes first and be for­mally ac­knowl­edged be­fore take­off in a bid to fur­ther en­trench na­tional re­spect.

Vir­gin Aus­tralia will to­day re­veal the US-style ges­ture to hon­our the na­tion’s Dig­gers.

It comes af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son an­nounced a new mil­i­tary card, which would give vet­er­ans dis­counts off petrol, food and even wed­dings.

Vir­gin Aus­tralia will hon­our for­mer ser­vice men and women with the air­line’s pri­or­ity board­ing process, and alert pas­sen­gers via a pub­lic an­nounce­ment that the heroes are on board.

Mr Mor­ri­son this week spoke with air­line chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer John Borghetti, who said he un­der­stood why Aus­tralians were so proud of ex-mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

“We ac­knowl­edge the im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion vet­er­ans have made to keep­ing our coun­try safe and the role they play in our com­mu­nity,’’ Mr Borghetti said.

“Once the vet­er­ans have their cards and lapel pins, they will sim­ply need to present them dur­ing the board­ing process to be given pri­or­ity board­ing and be recog­nised on-board.”

It will be rolled out when the sys­tem of new cards — or dig­i­tal ID — starts early next year.

Mr Mor­ri­son gave the ini­tia­tive the “thumbs up”.

“It’s about nur­tur­ing the re­spect for our vet­er­ans and this was brought home for me re­ally heav­ily dur­ing the In­vic­tus Games,’’ Mr Mor­ri­son said.

“When I talk to vet­er­ans from other coun­tries, they are just so touched by the cul­ture of re­spect Aus­tralians have for vet­er­ans.

“Prince Harry said the same thing to me (at the Games).

“It was re­ally on dis­play and I just don’t want to take that for granted.

“And as a Gov­ern­ment, I want to en­sure we are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to pro­tect, pre­serve and fa­cil­i­tate it.”

Qan­tas has not com­mit­ted to the idea.

Queensland Se­na­tor James McGrath tried to con­vince air­lines to get be­hind the pri­or­ity board­ing plan last year af­ter meet­ing with Mates4Mates, which helps wounded or sick for­mer and cur­rent ADF per­son­nel.

Sev­eral US air­lines also recog­nise vet­er­ans on flights and sev­eral times a year they spon­sor “hon­our flights” that fly them to Wash­ing­ton DC to see mon­u­ments ded­i­cated to for­mer per­son­nel.

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