Recreational interstate flights will return in July, and possibly earlier, under a three-stage plan to lift coronavirus restrictions in Australia.
The roadmap, unveiled on Friday afternoon by Scott Morrison, also hinted at the introduction of cross-Tasman, Pacific island and international student travel in mid-winter, too.
Currently, a combination of state border closures and day-to-day movement restrictions have ruled out all but essential interstate journeys.
Crucially for the aviation sector, stage two will let states “consider allowing interstate recreational travel” depending on their situation, while stage three, planned for July, will see interstate journeys return completely.
The Prime Minister said, “Today, we move ahead with reopening our economy and our society, with a clear plan, and a clear framework, that shows Australians the road ahead.
“There will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be setbacks. Not everything will go to plan. But we cannot allow our fear of going backwards from stopping us from going forwards.
“You know, you can stay under the doona forever and you’ll never face any danger, but we’ve gotta get out from under the doona at some time.”
While the new three-step process has been agreed between Australia’s national cabinet of leaders, it will be up to state premiers to decide at what point each stage is activated.
More broadly, step one will see up to five visitors to a home and gatherings of up to 10 outside, with more scope for shopping, eating out and using playgrounds.
Step two will see gatherings of up to 20 outside of the home and the reopening of gyms, cinemas and galleries alongside “some” interstate travel.
Step three will allow gatherings of 100 people, all interstate travel and an ability to “Consider cross-Tasman, Pacific island and international student travel”.
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported that Qantas was primed to restart flying within a week’s notice and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that a trans-Tasman bubble would be “mutually beneficial” to trade and economic recovery.