Plans by Australian and New Zealand business groups to create a Wellington-Canberra travel bubble have been described as ''curious'' by the government-sanctioned group that's been working for weeks on the project.
Chambers of commerce on both sides of the Tasman said today they will take a detailed proposal to link the capitals to both governments this week.
But the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum, which is backed by the two governments, says the new proposal has come out of the blue.
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"This is a somewhat curious proposal, but it is not in any way linked to the Government-endorsed process,'' said Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group and Auckland Airport's general manager aeronautical commercial.
The 40-strong bilateral group is consists of government health experts and staff from border agencies, airlines and airports.
Tasker said it had been working solidly for three weeks to come up with a detailed proposal to put to government for the safe and sustainable re-opening of the border.
This proposal is now in its final stages of development.
Canberra Airport has no involvement with the safe border group.
Air New Zealand has distanced itself form the proposal from the chambers of commerce.
''Air New Zealand is not proposing Tasman operations until such time that the Tasman borders are open, and only with the support of governments on both sides,'' the airline said.
''We appreciate that both businesses and travellers are enthusiastic about operations – and we assure customers that as soon as it is possible to operate, Air New Zealand will be ready to return to the Tasman.''
Chambers of commerce on both sides of the Tasman say the first flight between Wellington and Canberra would be for a group of politicians, business people and journalists, followed by a regular service between the two cities.
Travellers on either side of the Tasman will be encouraged to register with the respective tracking apps of the two countries.
The Australian understands the office of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and a number of cabinet ministers and government agencies and departments have been consulted about ACCI's plan.
Australia's Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian he was confident the move would work.
Air travel between the countries would offer a huge boost to the ailing tourism industry in New Zealand.
Australia was New Zealand's largest source of visitors with 1.5 million arrivals last year and is seen as a market that could help tourism here recover — if border restrictions come off.
With both countries doing a good job of controlling the spread of Covid-19, the calls are intensifying for a travel bubble between the two countries.
Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said regular flights between Canberra and Wellington as the first step to prove systems and processes are in place for safe and effective movement of people between the two countries.
"We need to help the survival, recovery and sustainability of our vital tourism, export, event and travel sector and instead of talking about bursting the bubble, we have a plan to give consumers and governments confidence that we can bet back to business," Barnett said.
Asked about the differing approach between the two groups, he said they wanted the same result.
'It is accepted that the 40 experts are setting up the critically important protocols and processes required to open the borders but business also appreciates that the sooner this occurs the sooner the important tourism sector and the businesses they feed will begin recovery.''
Barnett said business organisations had a responsibility to ensure that their voice is heard and that governments on both sides of the ditch appreciate how important it is and how urgent.
''The end point for the two groups is the same – a safe environment for the movement of people,'' he said.
"Following the successful implementation of flights between Canberra and Wellington over a number of weeks, and the thorough evaluation of the systems and processes in place, we believe that further destinations around the Australian and New Zealand network could open.''
Barnett said New Zealand needed to not just say it was open for business but be able to roll out the welcome mat.