The governments of Australia and New Zealand are formally reopening discussions on whether a common customs and immigration free border between both countries can be made to work – with obvious implications for the trans-Tasman
duty free industry.
This new interest in a debate that has been around for many years stems from recent pressure from the airline industry to open up routes between both countries – effectively treating them as domestic routes with no customs and immigration processing.
But what has largely been just fanciful talk in the past has now taken on a much more formal, serious tone with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New Zealand PM John Key now talking about a common border between both countries as desirable.
At the same time, airlines claim that the removal of international status on these flights would effectively open up all of each countries' regional airports to direct flights. But at the same time this would obviously cause huge difficulties for the duty free business.
The airline argument is a strong one, with some claiming that air fares could be cut by up to 30% between the two countries.
Analysts and newspaper commentators say that destinations such as Avalon, Newcastle, Maroochydore and Hamilton Island on the Australian side and Hamilton, Palmerston North and Queenstown on the New Zealand side would most likely benefit more than most if an open border can ever be agreed.
Australasia's biggest low-cost carrier Jetstar is just one of the major supporters and its Ceo Bruce Buchanan is acknowledged as one of the driving forces behind the common border campaign.
Asia & Pacific,