Grounded: Jacinda Ardern blocks start date for trans-Tasman travel bubble and says Australia needs to reduce coronavirus cases before route opens
- The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants flight to restart in July
- Jacinda Ardern shot down the plan on Thursday as Australia’s cases are too high
- Ms Ardern and Scott Morrison are meeting Friday to discuss another travel plan
- The report, compiled by government experts, is likely to be given the green light
- Ms Ardern has flagged September as the likely date for trans-Tasman travel
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Jacinda Ardern has blocked a start date for trans-Tasman travel bubble saying Australia needs to reduce coronavirus cases before the route opens.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has drawn a plan to restart flights between Canberra and Wellington from July.
The trans-Tasman blue-print has the backing of the Wellington, Auckland and Canberra business chambers, with Canberra Airport even opening a register of interest for potential flights on July 1 and 2.
But Ms Ardern shot down the proposal on Thursday saying Australia’s COVID-19 case numbers were still too high.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) has shut down a proposal from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to open a trans-Tasman travel bubble from July
‘We are getting ready … but it does come down to our COVID status,’ she said.
‘We’re (New Zealand is) on a great track. Australia is still dealing with cases, so just a little bit more progress is required.
‘It is fair to say we are all very eager but we’re eager to do it safely.’
Ms Ardern wouldn’t be drawn on a timeframe, saying ‘pressing go will take both the NZ and the Australian government to tick that off’.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said broader travel route options would be preferred to reflect demand.
‘I wouldn’t have thought Wellington and Canberra are the best places for this flight,’ he said.
‘Nothing against Canberra, but I’m for mass population movement by way of demand, rather than the capital cities.’
The Trans Tasman Safe Border Group, a government-backed group, has prepared a report on the resumption of regular flights, due to be handed to both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday.
The report has been compiled by 40 experts from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Border Force, New Zealand’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Aviation Security Service, Qantas and Air New Zealand.
Government sources say it is the most likely travel bubble plan to win approval.
Qantas and Air New Zealand have been named as the two proposed airlines that will operate under the trans-Tasman travel bubble
Ms Ardern has flagged September as a realistic date for Australians to travel across the Tasman. Pictured is Hahei, New Zealand
Air New Zealand, named alongside Qantas as one of the two proposed airlines to fly between the capitals, isn’t firing up their engines just yet.
‘Air New Zealand is not proposing Tasman operations until such time that the Tasman borders are open, and only with the support of governments on both sides,’ the airline told AAP.
‘We appreciate that both businesses and travellers are enthusiastic about operations, and we assure customers that as soon as it is possible to operate, Air New Zealand will be ready to return to the Tasman.’
Ms Ardern has previously flagged September as a realistic prospect for the creation of a trans-Tasman travel bubble, though tourism and business bodies are pushing for this to be created sooner.
The travel bubble could reopen tourism markets in both countries worth $6billion in total.
Australia has 498 active cases of COVID-19 while New Zealand has one.
Nationwide, there have been 7240 confirmed cases of coronavirus including 102 deaths.
New Zealand has recorded 1154 infections including 22 deaths.
Ms Ardern said Australia’s coronavirus cases must drop before travel between the two countries will be approved. Pictured is a nurse conducting a COVID-19 test in Sydney on May 15