First Trans-Tasman flight proposal released

Media Release originally distributed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry on 4 June 2020

The opening of the Trans-Tasman bubble to allow Australians and New Zealanders to move freely between countries is proposed to begin with a symbolic pilot flight between capital and sisters cities Canberra and Wellington in July.

The Australian Chamber Tourism, Canberra Airport, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Canberra Business Chamber and Auckland Business Chamber have united to create a proof of concept proposal for the first post-COVID-19 flight.

Keen travellers can now register to be part of the initial concept flights, with the goal to establish regular flights between the two capitals and other routes soon after.

Australian Chamber Tourism chair John Hart said: “The symbolic route will show we have developed a safe and effective method of air travel and encourage the extension of the aviation networks to other destinations across Australia and New Zealand over time.”

“The tourism opportunity for Australia is to tempt more of the 3.1 million New Zealanders that travel overseas to come to Australia this year. Pre-COVID we received around 1.3 million visitors from New Zealand, leaving about 1.8 million holidays up for grabs.

“Furthermore, we need to begin to restore consumer confidence that travel can be safe in a COVID-19 environment and elevate freight opportunities between the two countries.

“The positive impact on our economy would be staggering.”

Stephen Byron, Managing Director, Canberra Airport said that the Canberra and Wellington connection was a logical first step to reinvigorating international air travel and our regional economy.

“Canberra and Wellington have been COVID-19 free now for several weeks, they are also significant hubs for business and tourism, and with such a positive health situation on each side there would be no requirement for post-travel quarantine in either city,” Mr Byron said.

“Not only will this lead to re-employment of thousands in the tourism, accommodation and aviation industries but it will also provide the opportunity to be reunited for thousands of family and friends stuck apart on either side of the Tasman.

“There is already great demand for these flights to begin through what are safe, easy, and quick gateways for travel and we look forward to making this a reality for Canberrans and those in our region as soon as possible.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the success of Canberra in handling the COVID-19 pandemic means that the city is ideally suited to establish a Trans-Tasman bubble for quarantine free air travel between Australia and New Zealand.

“We have a world-class airport in Canberra and plenty to offer New Zealand residents looking to travel, as well as many Canberrans looking to take a well-deserved break. As one of the safest destinations in Australia, Canberra is ready and willing to accept travellers under a Trans-Tasman arrangement.”

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said there are already strong business linkages between Canberra and Wellington.

“New Zealand will be one of the top international markets for ACT and regional businesses. The synergies between our two economies create opportunities in important industry sectors like education and research, ICT, cyber security, renewable energy, and space science.”

John Milford, Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive said the bubble needed to be open as safe as it is to do so “for the sake of our small businesses, airport, and events sector.”

“Australians make up around 70 per cent of Wellington’s direct international arrivals – over 150,000 people. These tourists come specifically to spend time in the Wellington region.

“Getting those visitors back visiting our city for our hospitality, events, and shows will be important to helping our local economy recover and thrive once again.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said the proposal was developed to help build momentum and give confidence the countries can get back to business.

“We feed each other and we need each other’s dollars urgently to help with economic recovery. New Zealand needs Aussies back here as our single most important visitors, all 1.5 million of them, supporting our tourism sector, our cafes and events decimated by the enforced shutdown.”

To register your interest for flights on July 1 and July 2, go to Canberra Airport’s dedicated page.

To download the proposal, go to the Australian Chamber’s COVID Business page.

For more information:
Marie Hogg | Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry | +61 431 299 518
Tim Dawson | Canberra Airport | +61 455 227 711