One-way Australia–New Zealand travel restarts after latest suspension

written by Adam Thorn | March 12, 2021
ZK-NHB Air New Zealand Airbus A320neo
ZK-NHB Air New Zealand Airbus A320neo (Craig Murray)

Air New Zealand has resumed quarantine-free flights to Sydney and Melbourne after the Australian government ended its latest suspension of the one-way travel bubble.

However, the Queensland government has said it won’t allow similar flights to Brisbane until 20 March.

The reduced restrictions follow New Zealand removing all COVID rules and returning to ‘Alert Level 1’ following an earlier community case.

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Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty, said, “We’ll also be resuming flights between Sydney and Norfolk Island from 19 March.

“Because aircrew are currently unable to operate domestic services in Queensland without completing a 14-day quarantine period, this will impact our ability to operate between Brisbane and Norfolk Island while the restrictions on Queensland travel remain in place.

“We are pleased to be able to connect our customers with these Australian destinations once again and look forward to resuming quarantine-free flights to Brisbane in due course.”

A one-way ‘travel bubble’ first opened in October 2020 allowing Kiwis to enter Australia without quarantine, but not the other way around.

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On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was “happy” to make the bubble reciprocal when his trans-Tasman counterpart gave the green light.

“If the New Zealand government doesn’t wish Australians to visit New Zealand and spend money in Queenstown or Wellington, or other parts of a country, that’s a matter for them, it has always been a matter for them.

“If Australians can’t go to Queenstown, I’m hoping they can go to Cairns.”

However, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the timing is “a dynamic thing” and he couldn’t guarantee two-way travel would start before the end of the month.

The country had earlier pledged to drop its border restrictions in the first quarter of 2021, but that now looks unlikely.

In February, Auckland Airport predicted trans-Tasman travel wouldn’t restart in the first half of 2021 when it unveiled its six-month financial results.

“Although the government remains committed to restarting two-way trans-Tasman travel, and we support this, for the purposes of this underlying earnings guidance we have assumed there will be no material quarantine-free, two-way Tasman travel during the remainder of the 2021 financial year,” said Auckland Airport’s chief executive Adrian Littlewood. “It also assumes no further lockdowns of an extended duration during the period.”

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