ACT News

Could connected flights put Canberra's skills on New Zealand's radar?

Singapore Airlines' Capital Express route linking Canberra with Singapore and Wellington opens up many exciting opportunities for exports, tourism and business.

Robin Poke, Hughes, managed to secure a ticket for the first flight by Singapore Airlines to Wellington, New Zealand, in ...
Robin Poke, Hughes, managed to secure a ticket for the first flight by Singapore Airlines to Wellington, New Zealand, in September. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

For some New Zealand companies, one of these opportunities is to sway "smart Canberrans" to move across the ditch.

Tickets for Singapore Airlines' new direct routes went on sale on January 25 and will start on September 21.

Return economy tickets between Canberra and Singapore will cost from $650 and passengers travelling between Canberra and Wellington will pay fares from $469. 

New Zealand's largest auction and classifieds site, Trade Me, is seeking Canberra's IT whizzes now that "Wellington is on Canberra's radar like never before".

A spokesperson for the company, Simon Young, said Trade Me would allow more Canberrans to branch out from the public sector "to work in a more creative or open environment where the tech scene or start-up scene allows you do do more interesting things".

Packing up and moving to the city of "internationally recognised" culture, cuisine and creativity would advance careers and offer reasonably-priced homes, according to Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Chris Whelan.

But would swift connectivity between two capital cities and the targeting of Canberrans for Wellington jobs be enough for the Kiwis to steal our smarties?

Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Robyn Hendry doubts it will persuade the complex consideration people undertake when deciding where and how to apply their skills.

"But it is true, if New Zealand has a shortage of skills in one area or another, they may seek to gain those skills by engaging businesses in that export arena," she said.

"And absolutely if there are opportunities for business contracts to service those it will make them much easier and certainly more financially competitive ... and we are interesting in diversifying our economy."

She said the ACT had grown its exports by 9.2 per cent over the past five years and that 99 per cent of its exports were people.

Any skills seized from Canberra would be compensated by Canberra businesses pitching into New Zealand, Singapore and surrounding markets, believes VisitCanberra director Ian Hill.

"Certainly all of our analysis shows this is very much a job creation project in the tourism sector but also in trade, other services and IT," he said.

Kiwis are already the fourth largest inbound market into the ACT, following China, Britain and the United States, and Mr Hill expects they could bump higher with the new connectivity.

"The city is going through a real evolution," he said. "[The direct flights are] nothing but a big gain for the ACT."

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said the arrival of international flights would enable Canberra businesses to attract talent from Singapore and Wellington. 

"This new direct link between New Zealand and Asia will be great for Canberra businesses – opening up two of the closest international markets to the Canberra region," he said.