To say that it's been a difficult year for Australia's aviation industry is a bit of an understatement.
COVID restrictions and lockdowns for most of 2020 meant travelling by planes was off the cards for many domestically.
And that's before you even get to the issue of international travel, which had almost stopped entirely due to the closure of international borders.
However, more than 12 months on from the shutdown of the sector, the industry is showing signs of life again, thanks to the travel bubble with New Zealand, as well as the creation and expansion of routes domestically.
Where is the industry at?
Australia's domestic airline industry was hit hard by the pandemic, which saw passenger numbers drastically decline.
Snap border closures and city-wide lockdowns meant that some of Australia's major destinations and busiest airports were off limits to many people.
On top of that, the pandemic also led to Australia's second-largest airline Virgin go into voluntary administration.
Many other airlines such as Qantas also reported job losses due to COVID.
A little more than a year since the first shutdown, some airports have only just reached 50 per cent of its passenger numbers from 2019.
Half-price airfares have been introduced by the federal government to and from select destinations across the country as a means of kickstarting the industry.
However, since the tickets went on sale at the beginning of April, around half of the 800,000 tickets offered have been sold.
The chief executive of the Australian Airports Association James Goodwin said confidence in being able to travel safely again was rising.
"We have green shoots of recovery starting to bloom at the moment and we want to build on that," he said.
"The aviation and tourism sectors are resilient.
"We do have a level of confidence that is returning to the sector."
Why have new routes been added?
With international travel off the cards due to the pandemic, many airlines set their sights on expanding routes domestically.
Larger airlines like Qantas have added additional routes to locations such as Ballina-Byron Bay, the Sunshine Coast and Coolangatta to name just a few, in order to meet demand.
It's also led to smaller airlines such as Link, Fly Pelican and Rex expanding their services.
Rex, a regional airline, has used the pandemic to establish themselves as a domestic carrier, including setting up flights between Sydney and Melbourne, along with routes from Sydney to Canberra.
With more domestic routes having been added in recent months, those in the sector have said a further expansion was set to be on the cards.
Additional flights or more direct flights to destinations are being touted as possible options.
When will the sector get back to pre-pandemic levels?
That's the million-dollar question that no one quite has an answer to.
While an exact time as to when flights, domestically at least, will be back to what they were before COVID hit is difficult to predict, what people can agree upon is that it would still take several months for that to happen, provided that everything goes smoothly and there are no more snap lockdowns.
While some industry experts have said going back to 100 per cent capacity may take until the end of the 2021-22 financial year, Mr Goodwin was more optimistic in his assessment.
"The new magic number is still trying to determine what will be the new normal," he said.
"What we hope is that we'll get back to pre-COVID levels by the end of the year for domestic travel."
What about international travel?
It may still be a while before we're able to grab our passports, head to the airport and travel to a country of our choosing.
However, international travel is back on the cards somewhat in Australia, thanks to the creation of the travel bubble with New Zealand.
Those over the ditch had been able to travel to Australia since October last year, but that was not reciprocated due to small COVID outbreaks in some parts of Australia.
However, quarantine-free travel in both directions became a reality last week, with Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand operating trans-Tasman flights.
Thousands of people have since taken advantage of the travel bubble between the two countries, with those on both sides of the Tasman saying it represented a boost for tourism and the economy.
While Australians are able to head to New Zealand, other countries may be off the cards for a while yet.
Mr Goodwin said international air travel was down by 98 per cent compared with pre-COVID levels.
The idea of similar travel bubbles with nearby nations that have handled the outbreak of COVID well, such as Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan have been raised, but such a travel bubble with either country has yet to be finalised.
Experts have said it would still be many months before broader international borders may be able to be opened.
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