Barr to lobby for direct trans-Tasman Canberra flights as restrictions begin to ease

Dominic Giannini 6 May 2020 44
Trans-Tasman travel

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says he will discuss initiating direct flights between Canberra and New Zealand, but stressed that any trans-Tasman travel was still some months away. Photo: File.

As talk heats up about a trans-Tasman safe travel zone, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has flagged his intention to continue lobbying airlines to establish a direct route between Canberra and New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was invited to Tuesday’s (5 May) National Cabinet meeting and spoke about the prospect of setting up a ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ between the two countries. Both continue to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

Domestic, and trans-Tasman travel is still some time away from becoming a reality as physical distancing measures remain in place and five Australian states or territories have closed borders. But Mr Barr says he will be engaging in discussions with Qantas and Air New Zealand to prepare for restrictions easing over the coming months.

“The current health crisis has caused unprecedented disruption to aviation across the globe, but the prospect of a Tasman bubble with travel permitted between Australia and New Zealand presents a great opportunity to again prosecute the case of connecting Canberra to Wellington and Auckland,” the Chief Minister told Region Media.

“We have been working hard to reconnect Canberra to New Zealand ever since Singapore Airlines took the Wellington leg off their Singapore flight. I was due to meet officials at Air New Zealand in Auckland in late March to continue lobbying for direct flights, however that trade mission was cancelled due to COVID-19.

“I will be discussing opportunities with Qantas and Air New Zealand, and the respective airports, in the coming months.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated Mr Barr’s comments that any measures would still be some months away.

“The [NZ] Prime Minister and I have, for several weeks, been talking about a safe travel zone between Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Morrison said.

“It is still some time away. It is important to flag it because it is part of the road back, at some point both Australia and New Zealand will connect with the rest of the world again… the most obvious place for that to start is between the two countries.”

Both Prime Ministers released a statement saying that an arrangement would only be put in place when “it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health”.

“This arrangement recognises that Australia and New Zealand are both successfully addressing the spread of COVID-19. Any arrangement would need to take into account state and territory movement restrictions,” the statement said.

“A trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends.”

However, both countries would need to exercise caution with measures that could encourage travel if a second wave of infection occurs.

“Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it is essential any such travel zone is safe. Relaxing travel restrictions at an appropriate time will clearly benefit both countries and demonstrates why getting on top of the virus early is the best strategy for economic recovery,” the statement added.

Lockdown restrictions in the territory were recently eased as the ACT remains the only jurisdiction with no known infectious cases.

Further easing is on the National Cabinet’s agenda this week. Both the Chief Minister and Prime Minister have said that the path out of lockdown will be staged and gradual, but it’s widely expected that restrictions will be eased further after the National Cabinet meeting this Friday.

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44 Responses to Barr to lobby for direct trans-Tasman Canberra flights as restrictions begin to ease
HeyangThomas HeyangThomas 12:12 pm 16 May 20

That’s an amazing idea. I fly Canberra to Christchurch return for 5 times in the last year. This would be an amazing direct route.

Joanna Leaman Joanna Leaman 9:56 pm 09 May 20

Canberra to Wellington again please.

Mina Wong Mina Wong 2:46 am 09 May 20

The issue here is, NZ see the high probability Australia is on its track of 2nd wave as we have no one single day where there had been no new cases and NZ already achieved days where they had no new cases. Didn’t anyone see it? We are not clear out of the wood yet but we are already in our own bubble of dilution and start popping champagne.

    Manda Elizabeth Manda Elizabeth 7:56 am 09 May 20

    ACT has had numerous days of 0 cases.

    Mina Wong Mina Wong 8:08 am 09 May 20


    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:48 pm 09 May 20

    The difference is that NZ was aiming to eradicate the virus, while the Australian government had only flattening the curve in mind. We should have been aiming for eradication too.

    Ellen Schofield Ellen Schofield 1:27 pm 09 May 20

    Julie Macklin eradication is not possible while we still have overseas travellers returning.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:49 pm 09 May 20

    Ellen Schofield That's the same for any country. Those people need to go into enforced quarantine, as now is happening. But it would have been nice to have aimed for eradication in the general community, although in the effort to flatten the curve, unplanned we perhaps might have done that. Though that depends on (if there are) how many asymptomatic cases out there.

    Mina Wong Mina Wong 5:14 pm 09 May 20

    I think eradication is possible. China had made it, NZ had made it and many countries in the worldometers had made it, they were just not mentioned in the news. If eradication is an impossible thing, then we will not be getting where we are today. We will not be able to flatten the curve. We are in the position where eradication is still a possible thing. When we are in the 2nd wave, I dare not say anymore eradication is a possible thing. In community transmissions where the source of infections is no longer can be traced, flattening the curve or eradication is a much much tougher thing to do. It is not just much tougher for the government, but also our lives. You must wash all your clothes and shower from hair to feet as soon as you are coming out from outside. It is a much more stressful situation. The restrictions we just had would feel like nothing. That is the reason that I regretted the step the government took this week to ease the restrictions. We are not far long away from eradicating the virus and gaining full freedom from it. Guess it’s is destined for things to happen sometimes.

Natalie Griffiths Natalie Griffiths 9:31 pm 08 May 20

What about Canberra to Nadi when the Pacific islands let us back in.

Stephanie Wall Stephanie Wall 7:40 pm 08 May 20

YAAAAASSSSS!!!! This Maori misses her whanau like crazy!!!

Lucas Hayden Lucas Hayden 5:31 pm 08 May 20

Rob Craven CBR to Taupo.... say around March?

    Rob Craven Rob Craven 6:11 pm 08 May 20

    Lucas Hayden wouldn’t that be a happy coincidence

Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:55 pm 08 May 20

Didn’t Virgin fly to and from NZ? I don’t think it was economically viable for them.

Ashley McBride Ashley McBride 8:47 am 08 May 20

Yes, please!!!!

Robyn Theobald Robyn Theobald 5:45 am 08 May 20

Yes please Canberra to Auckland would be awesome but even to Wellington again would good!

Briony Young Briony Young 12:12 am 08 May 20

Barr needs to worry about other things than trips to NZ - oh unless it impacts him directly...

Deborah Jane Deborah Jane 11:34 pm 07 May 20

Yes!!! Canberra to Auckland would be fantastic

Rebecca Gallacher Rebecca Gallacher 10:15 pm 07 May 20

Yes yes yes!

Chris Olsen Chris Olsen 9:32 pm 07 May 20

Canberra to Welly, Auckland and ChCH would be great!!!

Paul Kelly Paul Kelly 7:10 pm 07 May 20

Canberra - Auckland would be great

Elizabeth Teale Elizabeth Teale 7:04 pm 07 May 20

Catherine Edwards Jay Bobber FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED

Greg Williams Greg Williams 7:03 pm 07 May 20

Sweet as.

Dan Rowley Dan Rowley 6:58 pm 07 May 20

Stefan Huggett I’m coming bro!

Martina Landsmann Martina Landsmann 6:00 pm 07 May 20

I agree!

Janae Britton Janae Britton 5:46 pm 07 May 20

If they allow this, travel to caravan parks should be allowed at the same time

Darren Sault Darren Sault 5:42 pm 07 May 20

Kelly Sault - Canberra-Wellington?

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