By Luke Voogt
Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings has urged Geelong to push for local flights to New Zealand following the recent announcement of a trans-Tasman travel bubble.
“We’ve been very keen for New Zealand for many years and, given the circumstances, I think Geelong would embrace it,” Mr Giddings said.
“The more support we can get from the Geelong region for flights to New Zealand, the more likely we are to secure them.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement the bubble would commence on April 19 presented an excellent opportunity to secure regular flights, Mr Giddings said.
“Given some of the Asian destinations won’t be open for some time, it makes sense that the demand for flights to New Zealand would increase,” he said.
“The inbound tourism would, hopefully, replace some of the international tourism that we’re missing out on.
“The tourism sector could pull together packages especially for people coming over from New Zealand.”
Having New Zealand flights arriving at Avalon could assist in separating those passengers from returned travellers when inbound flights recommence to Melbourne Airport, Mr Giddings said.
Mr Giddings is also awaiting a response from state government after Avalon Airport and other organisations submitted their plans for a quarantine camp to replace Victoria’s hotel quarantine program.
“We’re willing to put our hand up to accommodate whatever government determines is the best outcome for the safety of passengers,” he said.
Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine executive director Brett Ince said flights to Avalon Airport presented “considerable opportunities” for airlines to capitalise on New Zealanders visiting friends and relatives living in Geelong.