Nelson Airport CEO Rob Evans says that airlines will likely offer deals to get people travelling again. Photo: File.

Reintroduction of air travel ‘huge step’ for region

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The reintroduction of domestic air travel under alert level 2 will be a huge step forward for the Nelson region, says Nelson Airport CEO Rob Evans.

Rob says that the rules around air travel for Alert level 2 are “much better than expected”.

“Previously, it was essential workers only, so this will be a real positive change moving into alert level 2. It’s a real turning point.

“We can see a real return to domestic travel … As a geographically isolated region, air travel is critical for us. Not just for our tourism, but for business too.”

Rob says that under alert level 2, Nelson Airport will be operating five flights per day, with two services to Auckland, two to Wellington, and one to Christchurch.

“These are the key Air New Zealand routes, so it will be good to have those up and running again.” Rob says that air travel will feel quite different than what people have been used to.

“Physical distancing will be key, and they can only use half the seats.”

He says, in the short term, there will be a lot of changes. People’s attitudes might be slightly different, and there are some good things that will come out of this in terms of hygiene practise and health and safety.

However, Rob says that while travel may feel different for a time being, things will eventually return to some sort of normal.

“I think mankind is always destined to travel and explore. Aviation is still an exciting way to travel, and I think people will re-engage with that.

“We are hearing that there could be some great deals too. Airlines will have to stimulate demand, so hopefully we will be seeing some really competitive fares.”

Originair CEO Rob Inglis says that the the lockdown has been disappointing after a strong Summer for Originair.

“We had a very strong Summer and were planning to expand our services, but from a schedule point of view we haven’t been able to operate.”

He says that being able to operate charter flights for essential service workers has “been very helpful”. Rob says that it may be difficult for Originair to operate under level 2 restrictions.