Qantas is operating a series of one-off flights from Norfolk Island to Australia to help tourists caught up in the New Zealand travel bubble suspension.
Despite the resort being an Australian territory, it is usually serviced by Air New Zealand but those flights had to be cancelled as a knock-on effect of the last week’s temporary cancellation.
The Australian flag carrier, which isn’t regularly flying to the destination now, is operating five return flights in total from Sydney and Brisbane.
The first, a Boeing 737-838, VH-VZV msn 34189, departed Norfolk Island at 5:15pm local time on 31 January as flight QF184 and landed in Brisbane at 5:15pm AEST.
Usually, the island is serviced by Air New Zealand, which operates three return services per week to both Sydney and Brisbane.
The business explained that the Australian government’s rules last week meant that any crew operating domestic flights in Australia would be treated as an international airline, requiring them to undertake quarantine.
“This is why we’ve had to suspend the domestic sectors from Norfolk Island to mainland Australia,” said Air New Zealand in a statement.
Norfolk Island administrator, Eric Hutchinson, told the ABC the airline was making contact with all passengers affected by the cancellations.
“There is an option to be reaccommodated on one of the Qantas flights, to cancel their booking and receive a full refund, or to receive a credit to use for future Air New Zealand flights,” he said.
Australia ended its short suspension of the one-way New Zealand travel bubble at the weekend following no further transmission of COVID.
The initial decision was taken after it emerged the two new COVID cases recorded across the Tasman were also of the more transmissible South African variant.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the B.1.351 variant is thought to be 50 per cent more transmissible and had already spread to 26 countries, including in two people who had arrived in Australia’s own hotel quarantine.
The decision was made based on advice from the country’s Health Protection Principal Committee and the recommendation of the acting chief medical officer.