Balloon tragedy effects felt in Australia

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

The effects of last month's Carterton balloon tragedy are being felt across the Tasman, with bookings for hot air balloon rides in Australia nearly halving on one website.

Eleven people died in the January 7 tragedy, when a balloon exploded in flames after hitting power lines.

The cause is still being investigated but the ripples are being felt in Australia. Activities website Godo.com.au said bookings decreased 47 per cent last month compared with January last year, news.com.au reported.

Godo.com.au general manager Renee Welsh said bad weather and a strong dollar had contributed to the decrease but the Carterton tragedy had made people think twice about hot air ballooning.

"People are asking more questions about safety procedures," she said.

However, she believed the caution would be short-lived because there were "so many other things happening in the world".

"We haven't had a hot air ballooning accident in Australia in many, many years."

Balloons Over Wairarapa organiser Jonathan Hooker told APNZ he was not aware of any effect on the industry here, although flights in the Wairarapa had only resumed on Waitangi Day.

"From talking to a couple of the commercial balloonists, I'm not aware that they're noticing anything untoward," he said.

The balloon festival runs from March 8-11 and will be preceded by a public memorial service on March 4.

A giant panda bear balloon will make its first trip outside the United States for the festival, Mr Hooker said.

"Pandy", a 3540 cu m balloon is as tall as an eight-storey building and made of 2148 sq m of fabric.

- APNZ

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