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.
Chair of NZAC Justin Tighe-Umbers says the positive 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,” says Kevin.
Surveys are showing that Kiwis are ready to travel. Domestic flights are down by 95 per cent 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.
“Like any business, the cost of providing services has to be considered. For airlines, flying half empty planes is just not feasible for long or they will not survive,” says Justin.
He says the weeks in Level 3 and 4 have given airlines and airports both time and practise to put some new procedures in place. As those systems were worked out further, information is being prepared to show the travelling public what to expect at airports and how airlines would operate in the new environment.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says people need to take personal responsibility and ‘play it safe’. People can travel under Alert Level 2, including between regions for recreation and tourism, but need to do so safely, and to keep a record of their travel.