Pressure is mounting on the government to reopen trans-Tasman travel when industry groups ask for expressions of tourist interest in New Zealand flights departing on July 1.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce has proposed the Canberra route to Wellington as “proof of concept” for the resumption of international flights for “post Covid-19” trips.
Canberra Airport has opened an interest list for flights on July 1 and 2, but the airport notes that the date can be pushed back with government approval.
Usually this will be followed by several weeks of flights twice a day before opening to other Australian capitals.
“The symbolic route will show that we have developed safe and effective air travel methods and encourage the expansion of the flight network to other destinations throughout Australia and New Zealand from time to time,” said the head of tourism of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, John Hart, said.
“Tourism opportunities for Australia are to tempt more than 3.1 million New Zealanders who are traveling abroad to come to Australia this year. Our Pre-Covid received around 1.3 million visitors from New Zealand, leaving around 1.8 million holidays.
Canberra airport managing director Stephen Byron said there was already significant interest.
“In the first 15 minutes [the register] being online there are 35 interesting expressions, in the next 15, there are 13. We haven’t even put it on Facebook, “he said.
No airline has officially signed the plan yet, but Byron said he was not worried.
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“Yes and no [from airlines]. I think in some parts of the company they are waiting for more than the reopening of the floodgates, but in half an hour we have already filled half the flights so I don’t think getting an airline on board will be a problem. ”
The Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the Auckland Business Chamber also support this proposal.
The proposal will require the approval of the Australian Head of Health Protection Committee, which consists of all state and territory health officer and chaired by the chief medical officer of Australia, but this may not be given a short timeframe.
It is understood that the federal government believes that trans-Tasman travel is still a few months away, due to the focus on easing the closure of domestic borders that still apply around Australia.
“I am confident that Australia and New Zealand will be ready and willing to go forward as soon as health advice is possible and all necessary protection is available. Although I want this to happen as soon as possible, I will not set a time limit yet, “said federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham.
“Making tourists move again will be crucial for the recovery of jobs and tourism businesses throughout Australia. New Zealand is the first and, currently, the only international market that we can agree to safely and easily open. ”
Byron has criticized the suggestion that international travel to New Zealand must wait until August or September.
“I think there will be hundreds and thousands more businesses will go bankrupt and jobs will disappear if we wait until August. “Obviously, if there is a setback in the health system then we will go to a later date, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” he said.
“Letting this trip back until the end of July will be the same as pushing the lockdown again or a week at the start of the pandemic … There are hundreds of businesses on the edge of the cliff, really hopeless.”
The Australia and New Zealand Tourism Working Groups are also developing plans to build a trans-Tasman bubble that will be considered by the governments of the two countries.
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