The chief executive of Avalon Airport has called on state premiers to consider opening up their borders to regional Victoria despite a surge of cases in Melbourne.
In an interview with Australian Aviation, Justin Giddings said that while it wouldn’t be appropriate to open “right now”, case numbers outside the capital are still low and the move would help tourism recover.
“Hopefully we can start those flights up because there’s a real opportunity for us,” Giddings said.
Avalon is the second biggest airport servicing Melbourne, however lies just outside the boundary for last week’s fresh lockdown triggered by a surge of cases.
No flights are currently operating out of the airport, but the facility is now home to many of Australia’s grounded aircraft.
Giddings was talking to Australian Aviation as part of a larger feature that will appear in the next Australian Aviation print edition. You can find out more and subscribe here.
“It would be good to see other premiers consider the low number of cases and maybe open up their borders to regional Victoria,” said Giddings.
“Firstly, it would allow people to travel from regional Victoria to those other places but also to give other states some tourism.
“More importantly for regional Victoria, it would allow people from say Sydney to come down through Avalon, visit regional Victoria, have a break and [bring back] some sort of confidence, with such low case numbers in regional Victoria.”
Giddings also pitched an idea for Avalon and Tullamarine to work together to manage the flow of flights into the state. For instance, he thinks the larger airport could focus solely on international flights with Avalon handling domestic.
“It would ensure we have an almost bubble protecting the different cohorts of passengers. So there’s lots of opportunities there for, I think, the Victoria government and Victoria in general to take advantage of with these two airports.”
Giddings and Avalon have made headlines in the last few months for using the downtime afforded by the pandemic to launch a series of innovative new initiatives.
Previously, Australian Aviation has reported that the ambitious airport has introduced ‘touchless’ check-in and bag drop kiosks to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus, while customers will now no longer need to remove laptops from their bags.
At the peak of the shutdown, around 50 of Qantas and Jetstar’s fleet was housed at Avalon.