Direct flights could link Canberra with New Zealand in time for a busy summer tourism season, as part of a proposition to airlines being put forward by the ACT government.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr will travel to New Zealand next week to meet with counterparts from Wellington and Auckland to put a joint proposal to airlines to directly service Canberra Airport.
"Our proposition really would be around the summer season. If we could get something up in time for Floriade, that would be fantastic, but if it's into the summer, that I think will work well for us," Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr said it was possible two different airlines could connect Canberra to Auckland and Wellington, given the different sizes of the markets.
"Clearly Auckland is a bigger market and so it'd be more suited to a slightly larger plane. Wellington is a smaller market and would be better suited to a smaller plane. That may mean different airlines flying between Canberra and Wellington and Canberra and Auckland," he said.
"We'll obviously have those discussions with the airlines, but they are busily reconfiguring their fleets in order to deal with the new aviation dynamic."
Mr Barr said he had good indications the New Zealand side was ready to find a way to make the proposal work.
"These things work best when they are two way, and both destinations are engaged," he said.
The ACT government has been lobbying New Zealand for a Canberra-Wellington travel bubble for some months.
Canberra Airport earlier this year pitched itself to be part of plans to allow quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia.
Canberra Airport chief executive Stephen Byron told The Canberra Times in March he had been talking to Qantas, Virgin and Air New Zealand about direct flights with New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the ACT government has pointed to strong hotel occupancy rates as a sign its efforts to attract domestic tourists are working.
Occupancy levels in Canberra's commercial accommodation was 73.2 per cent in April, above the national rate of 60.7 per cent, data collected by the global STR group shows.
The territory's occupancy has recovered from a low of 13.7 per cent in April last year, when COVID-19 public health restrictions shut down the bulk of the travel industry.
Mr Barr also signalled the ACT government could open up more co-investment funding for tourism initiatives, which have been used to assist the industry amid coronavirus travel restrictions.
"They have been over subscribed, so that gives us confidence that it's the right model and it's worth investing in again in the future," he said.
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