Flights between Australia and New Zealand could start as soon as 1 July, if a Canberra Airport proposal gets off the ground.
Canberra Airport is proposing an incremental opening of the trans-Tasman bubble with the first flights being between Canberra and Wellington (which are both COVID-19 free cities) on 1 July 2020.
These flights would be the first flights where passengers would not be subject to the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.
Canberra Airport is inviting expressions of interest for the first flights on 1–2 July, coinciding with the start of the Australian Capital Territory’s school holidays. More than 300 people had registered within two hours of the page going live on the airport’s website.
People who register will be emailed with a booking link as soon as the flights are released.
It is proposed that passengers will be able to travel from Wellington throughout New Zealand and that travellers arriving in Canberra will be able to travel to NSW and Victoria, and any other Australian state that has reopened its borders.
Air New Zealand told stuff.co.nz that it had no intention to operate the proposed service between Canberra and Wellington, which may scupper the plan.
However, Canberra Airport says it is “talking to all airlines” and may even run a charter service if commercial airlines aren’t interested.
A more detailed blueprint for trans-Tasman travel was also lodged with the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand on Friday.
An alliance of Australasian experts has lodged a comprehensive plan for the resumption of ‘safe’ trans-Tasman travel with Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison, recommending multiple layers of protection to be embedded across the passenger journey.
The detailed proposal, which was developed by the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group, made up of a team of 40 experts, provides a series of recommendations to the two governments on the creation of a safe air corridor between Australia and New Zealand.
Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group, said the proposal was aligned with official guidance released on Thursday from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
“This has been a significant piece of work involving experts from all parts of the system,” Mr Tasker said. “We’ve worked solidly together over the past three weeks to develop a detailed and comprehensive framework to enable the safe and sustainable restart of scheduled passenger services between Australia and New Zealand, and we’re delighted to have submitted our proposal to government.
“We believe our recommendations will effectively manage the risks but, importantly, they will also provide confidence to Australian and New Zealand travellers to visit each other’s countries to reconnect with family and friends, re-establish vital business links, and provide a lifeline of visitors to our respective tourism industries.”
Co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group Margy Osmond said the protections would ensure passengers felt safe throughout their journey, from the point at which they were considering and booking a flight across the Tasman, to moving through airports, the flight itself and arriving at their destination.
“It is now for our respective governments to review and work through the detail of the proposal and we are looking forward to supporting them further in re-establishing travel between the two countries,” Ms Osmond said.
The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group has recommended the establishment of a ‘Safe Travel Zone’ to be introduced in line with strong baseline health conditions in each country for the management of COVID-19.
The recommendations include several layers of protection across the traveller journey, allowing for the sustainable restart of ‘scheduled passenger services’ without the need for a 14-day passenger quarantine.
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