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Australian Travel Bubble A Step In The Right Direction

“We welcome the announcement of an Australian travel bubble, it is an important step in the right direction,’ said Aviation NZ Chief Executive, John Nicholson.

Much has been made of the economic impact of the announcement. We know that it will make a big difference to the General Aviation tourism industry which, pre-Covid, earned 80% of its income from international tourists - some companies were dependent on international tourism for 95% of their income.

The industry has suffered through the loss of international tourists. The Strategic Tourism Asset Protection programme has provided some help to some companies. It is good news though that Australian tourists will be back to generate much needed cash flow to support and rebuild operations. Australia and New Zealand together, account for about 40% of the sector’s income. However, it will undoubtedly take time, and confidence that travel is safe, before Australian business gets back to pre-Covid levels.

Freeing up MIQ space by an estimated 40% or 1800 rooms should also be good news for the pilot training industry. The largest trainer ceased its New Zealand operation in February, and the industry has been going backwards with the border closed.

We hope that spaces can be allocated to high value pilot training. The average international cadet pays around $80,000 per year in tuition fees. In 2020, the industry earned $51m in tuition fees from international students, generated $226m in economic activity, mostly in regional New Zealand, employed 380 staff and had an asset value approaching $100m.

Last year, 153 New Zealanders gained commercial pilot licences. This continued the decline evident since a 2009 high. With a growing aircraft fleet, now 4720 powered aircraft, the demand for pilots is expected to grow again as international air travel resumes and the use of aircraft for many purposes in New Zealand, from commercial to recreational, continues to expand.

A dynamic pilot training industry underscores our ability to provide the skilled pilots Air New Zealand and other airlines need to bring international tourists and business people to New Zealand, fly them around the country and provide the wonderful aviation tourist experiences our country is well known for.

‘We will be progressing talks with the Government about accessing MIQ facilities for high value pilot training,’ said Nicholson.

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