Justin Tighe-Umbers, chair of  NZAC Justin Tighe-Umbers, chair of NZAC

It’s a start – domestic travel on horizon and welcomed by industry

The decision to allow Kiwis to start travelling around the country by air under Alert Level 2 will help kick-start regional economies says the New Zealand Aviation Coalition (NZAC).

Justin Tighe-Umbers, chair of NZAC, says the move will help save and regrow jobs and businesses.

‘It’s so important that people can start moving around the country under Level 2. They need to be able to visit relatives and loved ones, do business, reconnect with families – there are so many reasons,’ he says. ‘It is also important to remember that every day without leisure travel costs our tourism businesses $50 million.’

Kevin Ward, chief executive of NZ Airports, says the coalition is working on how domestic air travel will operate under Level 2.

‘Airlines, airports and government departments are working closely together to ensure air travel can expand in a safe manner that protects the health outcomes achieved by New Zealanders,’ Ward says.

Surveys are showing that Kiwis are ready to travel. Domestic flights are down by 95%, and airlines are ready to start growing capacity to get people moving. From hardly any flights, more are being added to regional routes as demand for travel becomes clear.

Tighe-Umbers says the weeks in Level 3 and 4 have given airlines and airports both time and practise to put some new procedures in place. Information is being prepared to show the travelling public what to expect at airports and how airlines would operate in the new environment.

NZAC is made up of NZ Airports Association, Auckland, Wellington Christchurch and Queenstown airports, Air NZ and the Board of Airline Representatives NZ (BARNZ).

Andrew Olsen, chief executive of the Travel Agents’ Association on New Zealand (TAANZ) says allowing domestic travel under Level 2 is a welcome move in the right direction.

‘I think it shows the way to opening up the country, getting people and businesses reconnected and takes us a little step closer to the Tasman and PI bubbles. We've started hearing from NZ tourism companies who are keen to get agents involved in selling domestic packages. That is welcome business stimulus,’ says Olsen

Tourism Industry Aotearoa says the announcement is a huge relief to the tourism industry 

‘While the health of New Zealanders must remain the priority, we know that transport, accommodation, hospitality, retail, and most tourism activities can all be operated safely under Level 2,’ TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says.

TIA has been working with government agencies to develop guidelines on how tourism operators can work safely at Level 2, while maintaining physical distancing and contact tracing. These guidelines will be shared with tourism businesses as soon as possible.

‘Our businesses are desperate to get back to work and make a living for themselves and their staff. While Kiwi travellers will not replace the international markets we have lost, they will provide welcome business opportunities,’ Roberts says.

‘The next few months will be an amazing opportunity for Kiwis to experience the best New Zealand has to offer – and have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to save the livelihoods of other Kiwis.’

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