‘We are already getting questions from airlines asking how they can start flying into New Zealand again, some as early as June. That’s even within the existing border restrictions, so there are some positive signs there.’
Tighe-Umbers says BARNZ has coordinated an aviation sector advisory group comprising of airlines and airports to develop a plan on how recovery from the current situation could commence and proceed.
‘For example we are considering what levels two and one would look like for domestic travel within New Zealand. That would put some flesh on the bones around things like social distancing and health screening requirements, how people would get to airports etc.
‘Then we could start to provide a bit of certainty to other sectors on how they can develop their marketing and other plans.’
He points out that in April last year 30 international airlines connected New Zealand with 44 cities directly, representing 740,000 inbound seats. This April three airlines have scheduled regular services to three Pacific and six international destinations, with a 40,000 seat capacity.
‘That’s a 95% reduction in the number of fights – it’s a seismic shock for aviation and the wider tourism sectors.’