Auckland Airport is predicting its fortunes will take off early next year, but it all depends on the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

The country's biggest airport is expecting a loss of between $35 million and $55m for the year ended June.

At the moment the trans-Tasman bubble is floating in limbo due to various Covid-19 clusters over the ditch, but failing any significant hiccups, four states or territories are due to reopen for quarantine-free travel at midnight on Sunday.

A woman waiting at Auckland Airport for passengers to disembark from the first flight from Sydney to Auckland under the trans-Tasman bubble arrangement.

Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Auckland Airport boss Adrian Littlewood said there was no doubt that pauses in the trans-Tasman bubble were denting people's confidence because no-one wants to get stuck on the wrong side of the Tasman.

Surveys are showing that many would-be travellers are waiting to be vaccinated, he said.

"I think the stop-start nature [of flights], the vaccine programme yet to really roll out at scale means it's denting confidence ...that growth we were seeing in Tasman recovery is now going to take a little longer to emerge."

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood at the airport on the first day of the trans-Tasman bubble arrangement.

Adrian Littlewood Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Consultation with other people in the travel industry overseas showed better vaccination rates in other countries were having an impact on travel plans, he said.

"Those signs are starting to emerge that if you're through the vaccination programme, confidence is returning and people are seeing a way out."

While New Zealand is at the bottom of OECD vaccination rates, he said he welcomes the government's confidence that vaccinations will move along swiftly later in the year and be largely completed by Christmas.

"I think it actually means now in a funny way we have more certainty and can start to plan with that vaccination programme starting to scale up than we've had in the 16 months previously because we've had so much uncertainty to deal with. Actually now we can start to plan I think."

He said the airport has shown flexibility during the pandemic and now it was important that everyone goes out and gets vaccinated so that the country can re-connect with the rest of the world.

A traffic light system is being used successfully by some countries and he can see a vaccination pathway opening up for travellers in this part of the world but it would depend on a high rate of vaccination within New Zealand.

"That's why the vaccine programme is the catalyst for all of this," Littlewood said

The managed isolation and quarantine programme could be modified if enough people get vaccinated, he believes.


https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018802158/auckland-airport-ceo-hopes-for-vaccine-coverage-by-december