The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) is urging authorities in Australia and New Zealand to move towards the establishment of the Trans-Tasman “bubble,” as soon as possible to assist the aviation and tourism industries.
AIPA President Mark Sedgwick said pilots supported the view expressed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison following National Cabinet on Friday that there were benefits to taking action to support the jobs of airline staff, including pilots, flight attendants and ground crews, many of whom are currently stood down.
“We fully support the move by the Prime Minister to re-establish Trans-Tasman travel in order to get out members back to work,” Mr Sedgwick said.
“Mr Morrison is correct that there is a net positive for Australia and New Zealand to recommence flights and support jobs in the aviation sector.”
“As both countries ease corona virus restrictions, it is appropriate that all borders reopen and efforts to kick-start aviation and tourism are stepped up.”
“AIPA has written to Scott Morrison requesting an extension of the travel zone to Pacific nations including Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands, which rely on tourism and have been hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic.”
“Fiji has recorded only 18 Covid-19 cases and no deaths, while Vanuatu and the Cook Islands have no confirmed cases to date.”
“The success of Australia’s Pacific neighbours in limiting the spread of Covid-19 represents an opportunity to cautiously expand the travel zone to these island nations.”
Mr Sedgewick said the need to reopen air routes to the Pacific was urgent following the announcement by Fiji Airways that it would retrench 750 workers, which is more than half of its workforce.
“This is an opportunity for the Australian Government to show leadership in the Pacific and expand the travel zone, encouraging tourism and trade while providing a lifeline to the aviation industry.”