Barr backs Canberra Airport’s formal bid to be Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble port

Ian Bushnell 17 June 2020 15
Canberra Airport

Canberra Airport and the ACT Government have joined forces to secure flights to New Zealand by the July school holidays. Photo: Canberra Airport.

Canberra Airport has formally applied to the Federal Government for it to be the Australian port for a Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble with the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

The ACT Government is supporting the bid, with Chief Minister Andrew Barr writing to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backing Canberra and Wellington as destinations from which to launch the bubble.

The airport wrote to the Australian Government late on Friday and to Australian Border Force on Monday.

The key element in the airport’s strategy is the establishment of a Green Zone through each airport that would ensure there is no co-mingling with other international passengers, and the airport has sought Border Force approval.

The airport says this can most easily and quickly be achieved in Canberra, as opposed to other airports, as all of the currently unused International terminal would become the Green Zone.

The airport is looking at an incremental phasing-in of the bubble, with an initial target of one flight a day to control volumes, and a start date between 1 and 14 July to coincide with school holidays.

It says this would allow other ports and routes to be added after a one to two-week trial, and ensures the bubble would properly open by 24 July at the latest rather than mid-to-late August.

The airport wants Border Force approval to set up the Green Zone by 22 June.

In his letter to the Australian Government, Mr Byron said the airport would ensure all necessary health protocols are implemented but warns the severe economic impact of not taking pro-active steps to re-open travel between the two countries in the near term outweighs the extremely low health risk of restarting travel.

He fears that leaving the re-opening until September could tip a recession into a depression.

The airport argued in its letters that there was no longer a health reason for the Australian Government to force returning Australians (or New Zealanders) coming from NZ into a 14-day hotel quarantine as that country had been free of COVID-19 for more than 21 days. This was before two UK travellers to New Zealand tested positive to coronavirus, breaking that country’s long COVID-19-free run.

It also noted that Canberra had never had a case of community transmission and that all cases since 16 March had been in international quarantine and isolation when diagnosed.

The ACT is currently free of the virus after the recovery of a diplomat in isolation who tested positive after driving to Canberra direct from Sydney Airport.

COVID-19 travel bans

The COVID-19 travel bans have hurt Canberra Airport. Photo: File.

Mr Byron dismisses any assertion that the return of the virus to NZ may cast a shadow over Canberra Airport’s bid, saying NZ still has zero community transmissions and the recent cases have been identified and are being controlled.

He said it was critical that a start date be confirmed as soon as possible, and the airport was in constant touch with government, including Border Force at operational and policy levels, the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

”That is day-by-day, hour-by-hour as we all work towards an outcome that would see the commencement of flights,” he said.

Mr Byron said 3500 people had registered their interest in flying to New Zealand.

”We’ve got people who want to travel to NZ to see their mother who’s in chemotherapy but don’t want to have to go through 14 days of quarantine,” he said.

The intense interest had allowed Canberra Airport to progress negotiations with Qantas and Virgin, despite it being in administration, and Air New Zealand ”on the basis of an underwritten charter arrangement which is mutually commercially attractive and risk-free”, Mr Byron told the Australian Government.

But Mr Byron is concerned that both governments are waiting on each other to say they are open to receiving Australians and New Zealanders without them having to go into quarantine.

”It may well be that across the Tasman they’re waiting for us to move first so why wouldn’t we move first?” he said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr in his letter to Ms Ardern said that connecting the capital cities of Australia and New Zealand would not only be symbolic, safe and secure, but also a viable route for airlines to operate.

”Passengers would also be able to transit easily and in a low-risk environment to other Australian destinations on domestic networks,” Mr Barr says.

”The airports of both cities would be able to scale increases in services efficiently and provide a template for expansion of services to other destinations. Importantly, both airports are ready to support air services now.

”Prime Minister, I would value the opportunity to talk further with you about the potential of launching air services between the capital cities of Australia and New Zealand under what will be a new era of connecting our two nations,” Mr Barr wrote to Ms Ardern.

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
15 Responses to Barr backs Canberra Airport’s formal bid to be Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble port
Christine Jones Christine Jones 4:25 pm 19 Jun 20

Its been tried before and it didn't work, why do you think it could work this time????

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:35 pm 19 Jun 20

    Christine Jones actually it did work. The only reason it stopped was because Singapore Airlines were retiring the last of the long haul configured 777-200 that operated the route and they wanted to add another flight to Sydney with a late night departure. So changed Canberra to the triangular route via Sydney with the 777-300ER and changed Wellington to be a fag flight from Melbourne.

    The loads between Canberra and Wellington were fairly actually decent and would fill a 737 or A320 on maybe a 5 day a week schedule.

David Brown David Brown 4:28 pm 18 Jun 20

I think the Kiwis would be mad. Canberra airport is too easily accessible from Sydney and Melbourne.

Tania Milovanovic Tania Milovanovic 7:19 am 18 Jun 20

Happy to put my tourist dollars in this great country this year... lord knows it needs it. 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 8:52 pm 17 Jun 20

So another Canberra bubble then? 😂

Kim Kim 8:48 pm 17 Jun 20

Wow RiotAct how did Eleanor Taylor’s rant get past the post? I thought there were guidelines on writing constructive, thoughtful and positive comments. Let’s not forget Ruby Princess and those 2,600 passengers disembarking in Sydney, the largest source of Coronavirus infections to hit our shores and linked to 22 deaths.

Eleanor Taylor Eleanor Taylor 7:31 pm 17 Jun 20

Would have been a brilliant idea until NZ colossally screwed up the other day. Can't trust them to organise their way out of a paper bag!

2 new cases let out of quarantine without any testing and now trying to trace 320 close contacts...

    Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 9:10 pm 17 Jun 20

    Eleanor Taylor are you serious? Announced the problem quickly, took responsibility immediately and said what would be done to prevent it happening in the future. Let's compare and contrast with the debacle of responsibility avoidance that continues from the Ruby Princess, shall we?

    Daniel Smith Daniel Smith 9:12 pm 17 Jun 20

    The couple were attending a funeral hence why they were let out of quarantine

    Eleanor Taylor Eleanor Taylor 10:03 pm 17 Jun 20

    Daniel Smith and not tested at any point in time, said they drove 8 hours on steep roads on one tank of petrol and never stopped anywhere - oh yeah and got lost, asked for directions and hugged and kissed people and almost certainly stopped and there's now a question that they also attended a wedding. Oh and funeral hasn't happened yet - they were going down to help plan the funeral.

    Eleanor Taylor Eleanor Taylor 10:10 pm 17 Jun 20

    Tracey Crump announced the problem once they had to, PM threw minister under the bus who threw Bloomfield under the bus. Now turns out they were supposed to be tested, weren't until Wellington, despite health officials believing that lies from them that they didn't stop they are now proven to have etc. Worse though this isn't isolated - they let people out of quarantine to attend a funeral and expected them to come back, a different funeral they LOST an 18 and an 8 year old from temporary quarantine and no official can give clear and certain data if appropriate testing has been done at any time. It's a shambles - just like most of the NZ health system or other systems there where there is absolutely no accountability for anything.

Vicki Holt Vicki Holt 6:46 pm 17 Jun 20

Michael Rondel im a coming over 😂😂😂😂

Jhie Gough Jhie Gough 6:07 pm 17 Jun 20

Megan McCoy when you coming over?

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site