The much talked-about Trans-Tasman Bubble for travel between Australia and New Zealand may be edging closer, with all stakeholders coming up with more detailed plans to get the post-virus ball rolling.
Earlier in the week, chambers of commerce in Canberra and Wellington – two of the world’s safer cities when it comes to coronavirus infections – suggested trial flights between the two centres.
Canberra airport has even been accepting expressions of interest from travellers who would like to be on the first flight planned for 1 July. The register of interest had 140 names within the first hour.
Social importance of starting these flights
Canberra Airport MD Stephen Byron said on Thursday, 4 June that the restart was being discussed by both governments, Qantas and Air New Zealand. A key element of the plan is that passengers on these flights will have to be quarantined.
“There’s very strong demand for these flights which supports the commercial proposition, but it also underlines the social importance of starting these flights as soon as the health authorities deem it safe to do so,” Byron told The Associated Press.
But Kiwi deputy PM bursts their Bubble
But then New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, suggested this idea hasn’t quite been cleared for takeoff. “This is too early and doesn’t have the support of the Australian government at this point in time,” he told reporters on Thursday.
In a comment that will not go down well in either city, he noted: “I wouldn’t have thought Wellington and Canberra are the best places for this flight. Nothing against Canberra, but I’m for mass population movement by way of demand, rather than the capital cities.”
Other experts have a comprehensive blueprint
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Herald reported on Friday, 5 June that a group of Australasian experts has lodged a comprehensive blueprint for the resumption of safe trans-Tasman travel with the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers which could be implemented within weeks if given the green light.
“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,” the Herald said.
Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group and Auckland Airport’s general manager aeronautical commercial, said the proposal was aligned with official guidance released on Thursday by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
‘”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,” Tasker told the Herald.