Air New Zealand has revealed it will continue to pause repatriation flights to Melbourne and Brisbane due to the Australian government placing a cap on arrivals.
However, it said there is some available on flights to Sydney from early September, and Australian Aviation has seen that fares are on sale from just $545.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the restrictions will continue after being introduced at the start of July to ease pressure on the country’s government isolation facilities.
Currently, there is a cap of 25 passenger arrivals per flight into Brisbane and 40 per flight into Sydney.
“We know this is not an ideal situation for people wanting to return home to Australia and our teams are working to minimise disruption to customers as much as possible,” said the business’ customer officer Cam Wallace.
Speaking in July when the cap on the number returning to Australia was introduced, the Prime Minister said there would always be “capacity” for people to return home.
“There will be continuing access to Australia but the number of available positions on flights will be less and I don’t think that is surprising or unreasonable in the circumstances,” PM Morrison said.
“The decision that we took to reduce the number of returned travellers to Australia at this time was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and [contact] tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks.”
He added that the reason the government was asking airlines to reduce seats was that the country can’t technically turn away citizens at the border.
The move came into effect from mid-July and was followed shortly after by plans to charge those returning for their hotel accommodation.
NSW and South Australia now charge Australians returning home from abroad $3,000 to stay in hotel quarantine, while Queensland asks for $2,800.
The fee includes meals and Australians are not asked to cover the cost of security, transport or logistics.
On Thursday, Guardian Australia claimed the ACCC, Australia’s consumer watchdog, is investigating allegations that carriers are cancelling economy passengers tickets in favour of business and first-class customers.