Qantas shifted flights to dodge COVID-19 restrictions

written by Hannah Dowling | March 16, 2020

Qantas shifted forward two flights to Christchurch on Sunday to avoid the start of New Zealand’s self-isolation coronavirus restrictions, Australian Aviation can reveal.

On Saturday (14 March), New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced everyone arriving in the country, including returning Kiwis, must self-quarantine and avoid contact with others for 14 days, effective as of midnight the following evening (Sunday, 15 March).

The airline may face criticism that its decision to “re-time” the journeys went against the spirit of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 by allowing passengers and crew to barely miss its commencement.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Qantas made the announcement on Twitter that several services flying into New Zealand on Sunday, 15 March had been “re-timed” in order to enter the country prior to midnight, when the self-quarantine regulations would take effect.

One service affected by the changes was QF135, which was due to depart Brisbane at 6:05pm on Sunday, and touch down in Christchurch at 12:35am on Monday.

According to online flight tracking sources, the flight departed from Brisbane almost an hour earlier than scheduled, at 5:10pm, to arrive in Christchurch at 11:13pm local time, before the regulations came into effect.

PROMOTED CONTENT

A Qantas representative informed Australian Aviation that passengers of QF135 were informed of the earlier departure time via text message and calls, and stated that the information had to be passed on “very quickly”, due to the time restraint of the regulations.

A second tweet from the airline announced that the New Zealand government had waived the new travel regulations for those who arrive in the country prior to 1am, in order to allow for any “potential operational delays”.

As a result of this, flight QF139 from Sydney to Christchurch beat its scheduled arrival time by 26 minutes, touching down on Monday, 16 March at 12:04am local time.

One Twitter user commented on the airline’s decision to announce flight time changes specifically to “beat” the government’s implementation of mandatory self-quarantine, stating that it was “not a reasonable action” for a corporation to make.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ lands in Sydney after flying nonstop from London. (Qantas)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ (Qantas)

Announcing the tough restrictions, PM Ardern said, “I make no apologies. This is an unprecedented time.

“If you don’t need to travel overseas, then don’t. Enjoy your own backyard for a time. Stop handshakes, hugs and hongi. We are a tough, resilient people. We have been here before.”

On Sunday, Australia followed New Zealand and imposed similar regulations on travellers arriving in the country.

Did you know that Australian Aviation Magazine comes digitally? Subscribe to Australian Aviation’s digital magazine for just $59.95 a year! Our app is available on mobile, tablet and PC devices! Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

2 Comments

  • Tim and Robb

    says:

    Nothing in the scheme of things … we were looking at getting on those flights and getting a domestic transfer but they were too tight, even if they hadn’t of moved the times they would have still got in with a buffer as NZ moves times back an hour as there are many flights that in NZ just after midnight.

  • montgomery

    says:

    qantas is an essential airline in the aviation industry we can not afford to lose it. is this the way we want to say goodbye to the Qantas 747. another point to consider is the fact that Qantas is an essential part of Australia hence the name spirit of australia.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year