The reopening of the Queensland and South Australian borders, and the settling of a new owner for Virgin Australia, is putting more flights on the board at Canberra Airport as it reopens facilities to meet expected demand.
Virgin has announced flights from Canberra to the Gold Coast from 13 July as part of its comeback, with economy tickets on sale from $129.
Both Qantas and Virgin are flying to Brisbane, with Qantas also adding Adelaide to its schedule from Friday.
Also departing for the first time on Friday will be Fly Pelican’s service to Ballina-Byron, which is fully booked. The direct service to the NSW Far North Coast holiday haven departs three days a week – Monday, Thursday and Friday.
Canberra Airport Head of Aviation Michael Thomson said over 90 flights were operating out of Canberra per week, and the opening of the Queensland border will see an additional three return flights per week.
”However, that doesn’t tell the whole story for flights to and from Queensland. Flights have been operating to Brisbane throughout the pandemic servicing passengers who had an exemption to travel there,” he said.
”With the opening of the Queensland border, people will be able to fly to Brisbane freely and without quarantine from 10 July 2020. It is important to note that every week now we are seeing more and more flights coming back and the number of flights to Queensland and other parts of the country will continue to increase.
”Queensland is always a popular destination for Canberrans and I am sure we will see a lot of passengers heading to Queensland and passengers coming to Canberra as a gateway to the snow and all that our region has to offer.”
He said flights to Adelaide would re-commence on Friday, with three return flights per week operating initially.
”As travel restrictions are eased we would expect to see an increase in flights to South Australia and other destinations and an increase in flights to the cities we are already servicing,” he said.
The new Ballina link had generated a lot of interest, particularly with Canberra school holidays close at hand.
”Flights are filling very fast with great interest from both Canberrans in search of sun and passengers from the Far North Coast of NSW heading down to Canberra and the region,” he said.
Canberra Airport is willing and able to help in bringing Australians home from overseas – subject to approval by the ACT Government and the appropriate health and border authorities.
Mr Thomson said the airport was also ready and safe to receive international flights, either diverted from Melbourne or through the proposed trans-Tasman bubble.
”The international terminal is a clean and safe arrival and departure zone. As such the risk of cross-contamination of passengers or border staff is extremely low to non-existent,” he said.
”We have previously received two repatriation flights and no passengers were found to be COVID-19 infected. Following these flights, the international terminal has undergone extensive deep cleans, as does the domestic terminal on a regular basis.”
He said the airport continued to work, in cooperation with the Australian Chamber of Commerce, to be ready for the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble but the matter was in the hands of the Australian Government.
”This week the New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern made it clear that New Zealand is willing to accept passengers from Australia and that it is now a matter for the Australian Government to work with New Zealand to agree to how the trans-Tasman bubble will operate,” he said.
”We remain willing and able to assist in the return to isolation-free travel between Australia and New Zealand.”
Meanwhile, the Qantas lounge and News@CBR newsagency have reopened and a new Go Convenience outlet will open on Friday.
Head of Property Richard Snow said this was great news for those travelling to and from Canberra for business and leisure.
“Get back to travelling for business knowing that from today you can once again enjoy the Qantas lounge at Canberra Airport from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm five days a week and buy something to read, buy a gift, or travel essentials from News@CBR,” Mr Snow said.
He said the Capital Brewing Bar will open in August, and more retail offerings were to come in 2021.