Qantas has made an audacious pitch to woo Air New Zealand frequent flyers by allowing top-tier members to be fast-tracked onto its own loyalty scheme.
The offer was previously used to target Virgin Velocity members in November, but for the first time is now open to Kiwi residents.
It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Tuesday afternoon that quarantine-free flights between Australia and New Zealand would launch on 19 April.
The offer means new transferring members only need to accumulate 100 credits before 31 July to qualify for Gold rather than the usual 700.
However, they will gain immediate access to lounges and extra baggage while they attempt to hit the lower target, which could be reached by booking as few as five return economy trips between Sydney and Melbourne.
Gold tier benefits include lounge access across Qantas and Oneworld airline lounges globally, preferential seating and priority access to check-in, boarding and upgrade requests.
The offer, which is open to loyalty members from 16 international airlines, previously ran late last year but then wasn’t open to New Zealand residents.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has previously revealed that that 25 corporate accounts switched to his airline since the start of the COVID crisis.
The bold move comes after the Qantas Group said it would operate 83 per cent of its pre-COVID capacity to New Zealand when the two-way, trans-Tasman bubble launches on 19 April.
The airline group also said it would launch two new routes from Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast alongside restarting all its traditional routes between the two countries.
In total, it will operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, or 52,000 seats each week. It has been operating at just 3 per cent pre-COVID capacity during the current one-way arrangement.
The news comes despite Virgin Australia surprisingly announcing it won’t fly most of its New Zealand routes until 31 October. It followed PM Ardern warning passengers travelling to Australia to “plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted” if there is a COVID outbreak.
A one-way ‘travel bubble’ first opened in October 2020 allowing Kiwis to enter Australia without quarantine, but not the other way around.
Both countries indicated it would be made reciprocal in the first quarter of 2021, however, the move was postponed due to numerous small outbreaks of COVID in both countries.