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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Trans-Tasman travel bubble popped

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the Trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is unlikely to go ahead in the next few months, after being postponed for consideration in National Cabinet last week.

The Canberra Airport, in collaboration with the Australian Business Chamber, had previously submitted a proposal to recommence international travel between Canberra and the New Zealand capital, Wellington, by mid-July.

Mr Barr said the proposal, which was set to hit National Cabinet last Friday 10 July, would need to be considered at a later date.

“The National Cabinet was focussed on the Victorian situation on Friday. Consideration of travel bubbles was deferred to future meetings,” he said.

“Ultimately, this is a matter for the Australian and New Zealand Governments. It would appear unlikely to happen in the next few months though.”

The Canberra Airport has been pushing for the proposal since early June, opening an Expression of Interest portal on its website.

The website saw over 3,000 registrations for the proposal within a week of its launch.

Mr Barr said while restarting international travel between the two countries would have many benefits, the COVID-19 situation would have to come under control before it was considered.

“It would create jobs and boost spending in the respective economies. Aside from the economic benefits, the recommencement of flights would enable families to reconnect,” he said.

“Stable low-level case numbers and no community transmission in either country (would be necessary). Ultimately though, this is a matter for the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government.”

The proposal was originally submitted when both Canberra and Wellington were COVID-free cities in early June; however, Canberra recorded five new active cases of the virus last week.

New Zealand currently has 25 active cases in the country.

The recommencement of flights would have been a big win for the Canberra Airport, which had previously announced a 97% decrease in business since the pandemic.

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