The new chief executive of Launceston Airport says the business must focus on the domestic travel market and restoring pre-COVID capacity before pursuing growth.
Hans van Pelt, 53, is Tourism Tasmania's director of aviation and access development and has previously served as a senior executive at OzJet and Rex.
His appointment to the top job at Launceston Airport was announced earlier this month. He will begin in the role on August 24.
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Mr van Pelt said his chief priority was "rebuilding" the airport business at a time when the aviation industry was reeling.
"First and foremost, the priority is restoring the capacity that was there [before the pandemic]," he said.
"I certainly hold a view that Tasmania will be a domestic beneficiary going forward. People have limited places to go but still are very keen to travel."
The state government has announced its intention to create "safe travel bubbles" to facilitate movement between Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia from August 7. However, WA Premier Mark McGowan has since ruled his state out of sharing a bubble with Tasmania.
Mr van Pelt said new flight routes would be something the airport would "always look at", but that the immediate future of the business would be driven by demand and centred around recovery.
"It's [about] working with stakeholders ... to make sure we get the frequency and the seat capacity back," he said. "We [need to] get all the capacity back as quickly as possible and get those frequencies back across the day so people can travel when it's best for them."
"It's about restoring where the airport business was; it's potentially looking forward at diversifying property portfolios and that whole non-aeronautical revenue component to it.
"Ultimately [demand] is driven by passenger volume, it's driven by getting aeroplanes back in the sky and it's about recreating and increasing the whole economic side of the airport precinct."
Once Launceston Airport rebounds, there will be an opportunity to "stage the growth" of the business, Mr van Pelt said.
"Realistically, it's an 18-24 month exercise to get back to where we were, which is really what everyone across the industry is saying," he said.
"It will be very much demand-led and I think, from that point, Launceston, and Tassie as a whole, are really well-positioned."
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