Qantas operates Norfolk Island ‘repatriation’ flights

written by Adam Thorn | February 2, 2021

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.

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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.

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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.

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7 Comments

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    QF has had a long association with NLK but for reasons unbeknown to others for some years now they only service the island if and when they have to leaving the airline service in the hands of NZ for which, as I understand it, NZ receives a payment from the Oz govt. – If that is accurate, one wonders why the payment could not be paid to QF and we keep the funds inhouse and we become winners, not loosers. I am sure that there are contributors out there who could enlighten us please.

    • James

      says:

      I believe it was simply an AUS gov government contract, Air NZ bid for it and won it. I’m sure other Australian companies bid for it and didn’t win. Doesn’t mean it has to be done by QF.

  • David Grant

    says:

    Makes you wonder why Qantas should not be the default carrier from Australia with Air NZ doing the NZ connections.

  • Eric

    says:

    As a recent visitor to Norfolk Island I asked the same question from local tour operators. Without being given the finer details I was advised that Air New Zealand won the most recent tender for the service and that the Norfolk Islanders are very satisfied with the current A320 operations and with ANZ in general. The locals were somewhat critical of past dealings with QF.

  • kerry lane

    says:

    Hi Rod you will be aware – these routes are offered on a RFI / RFQ basis with airlines tendering

    Quite obvious why Qantas doesnt operate the route i would suggest

    Price is the key
    If you only tender with Qantas or Virgin – please be prepared to over pay for a closed procurement process
    Well done nimble Air New Zealand for benefiting the australian taxpayer

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    I am indebted to the contributors above for their inputs, I am also aware of official OZ. Govt. newsletters advising that Air New Zealand is the preferred supplier of air services between Oz., BNE and SYD to NLK for which they are paid a subsidy, now clearly the island community relies upon and needs an RPT service provider but I am puzzled why our majors. QF/VOZ whilst bleating for Oz. Govt financial support appear to not be interested in supporting their own backyard and seeking to opt to NLK for which no doubt they would receive a subsidy too, does “Cherry picking” ring any bells. Me thinks serious questions need to be asked here as we are talking about expenditure of public monies. Airlines can’t have it both ways.

  • OVTraveller

    says:

    Flying and staying on Norfolk Island is a unique experience and one that brings many happy memories, least of all the flights in and out. A decade ago the island was a regular annual event for my wife and I as she had business contacts on the island and we got to know many of the locals to a point of understanding the local language. Having been stuck there as a result of sea mist lasting three days meant that the Qantas flight diverted to NZ after three circuits of the island( no automated landing system). Many people will remember that the connection to Lord Howe meant standing on a scale to be publicly weighed and that Jaffas handed out by the pilot was the inflight treat. It would appear that little has changed, albeit the connection to Auckland was always a treat.Could never understand that Q was more proactive in servicing the island.

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