Canberra Airport’s managing director, Stephen Byron, has continued his campaign to restart trans-Tasman flights from the capital early by writing a formal letter to the government.
In a message sent to cabinet ministers, Byron said that starting the travel ‘bubble’ in a couple of weeks, rather than later in July, was essential to saving the economy.
The news comes after the executive earlier this month publicly called for expressions of interest for the first trans-Tasman flight to Wellington.
“The incremental opening of the trans-Tasman bubble in the first half of July rather than as late as September 1 could be the difference between an economic recession or a deep-seated depression,” Byron wrote in the letter obtained by The Australian.
“To this end, I would formally request that the Australian government, subject to the prevailing health advice, consider approving flights from Wellington to Canberra; to commence in the period between 1 July 2020 and 14 July 2020 and run on a daily basis thereafter; and no quarantine restrictions be placed on arriving passengers.”
Byron has also asked the Border Force to designate his international terminal as a so-called ‘green zone’, which would involve separating New Zealand arrivals from other international passengers who would still be forced to go into 14-day hotel quarantine.
Canberra Airport first started pushing for the plan in early June and the move is backed by the local, Auckland and Wellington chambers of commerce.
“You’ve got businesses hanging on for dear life where every day matters. If we delay this by a matter of months or indeed four to six weeks beyond July 1, you’re guaranteeing significant bankruptcy in the tourism sector that could be averted,” said Byron earlier.
Under the proposal, all Australian passengers would also be tested for the coronavirus prior to departure.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters also argued that trans-Tasman flights should resume quickly even if some Australian states remain closed.
“We’ve run into the roadblock of federalism,” said Deputy PM Peters in an interview with Channel Nine. “We should not have states being held back by the slowest mover, so to speak, so let’s get going.”
The intervention came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated in May that flights between the two countries could resume despite interstate closures.