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Airlines need chance for full flights

Photo: File/SunLive.

The government is being urged to loosen physical distancing rules on flights so families can make school holiday bookings.

Current alert levels are set to remain until at least next Wednesday September 16, and the holidays begin 10 days later.

Under alert level 2 restrictions, Air New Zealand can only sell about half the seats on turboprop aircraft and just under two-thirds on jets.

Jetstar has temporarily withdrawn from the New Zealand market entirely because they say it is not viable to keep flying under physical distancing requirements

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts says the July holidays proved how keen New Zealanders were to explore the country and visit family and friends, however, family travel might be thwarted by physical distancing requirements for the next school holidays.

"If social distancing remains in place, there just won't be enough seats to meet demand during the school holidays," Chris says. 

"If people can't fly, other businesses from accommodation providers to visitor attractions and restaurants also miss out.

"With the school holidays just around the corner, families getting out to the regions will be a vital lifeline for struggling tourism operators."

Chris urged the government to listen to epidemiologists like professor Michael Baker and associate professor Nick Wilson, who have both been reported in the media as saying mask use is sufficient for safe flying.

If their advice was followed, both airlines could safely sell all of their seats, he says. 

-RNZ 

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