Canberra International Flights
3 March 2016
Travel broadens the mind. One reason Canberra is such a cosmopolitan city is that it is a city of travellers. Canberrans have always traded confidently in the international marketplace of experiences and ideas—Nobel laureate and ANU Vice-Chancellor once told me that ANU is the only place that he could have done his internationally engaged research in astrophysics, because that is the way in which our city thinks.
But, up until now, the doorway to the rest of the world has been at the end of a three-hour drive. Canberrans struggle along the M31 and the M5 before finally ending up in the traffic clogged bad lands of the Airport East Precinct. And when you return, jet-lagged and unwashed, you face the same choices: a domestic connection or pushing on, somewhat hallucinating, on a bus a car trip back down the Hume.
But that is about to change, and whether Canberrans are travelling for work or play, they are going to benefit in some cases from being able to avoid that extra hop. From September this year, Singapore Airlines' new Capital Express will link Singapore, Canberra and Wellington, creating a direct international pathway for commerce, business and tourism.
Most people in the ACT live within half an hour of the airport. Flying out of Canberra Airport, a traveller stands to save around five hours on an international round trip. With the routes running four times a week, carrying 266 passengers, around 1,000 people could travel in any given week. That represents a saving of 5,000 hours of travel time. Over a year, that is 260,000 extra hours, or close to 35,000 working days, available for relaxing, thinking, researching, building, planning or just spending time with friends and family.
Canberrans have rightly been excited by this coming of age for Canberra Airport. Travellers are celebrating an end to the tedious preamble to overseas trips, and the Canberra Business Chamber is anticipating increased tourism, exports and business through the city.
I want to particularly acknowledge Chief Minister Andrew Barr whose many trips to Singapore have helped to make this possible and I also recognise the management of Canberra Airport. All of those who serve in this place will be familiar with the terrific redevelopment of Canberra Airport and the new hotel facilities. They will have had a strong sense of the progressive sensibilities of those who run Canberra Airport from the way in which it was lit up to support marriage equality. I join other Canberrans in congratulating Canberra Airport's vision for our city as a regional hub for internationally engaged industry, business and trade.