Air New Zealand has extended its agreement with the Australian government to operate flights to Norfolk Island until the end of August 2023.
It comes after Qantas mounted a direct challenge to the Kiwi flag carrier by launching flights between the resort and Sydney and Brisbane earlier this year.
That was for a period of three months beginning in March, and it’s not known yet whether Qantas’ service will be extended.
Air New Zealand chief operating officer, Carrie Hurihanganui, said the airline will establish a temporary pilot and cabin crew base in Brisbane until 30 November to ensure potential disruptions to the travel bubble don’t affect the service.
“Prior to the trans-Tasman bubble opening, crew operating domestic flights in Australia were required to have been in Australia for 14 days or have arrived in Australia on a quarantine-free flight,” said Hurihanganui.
“This unfortunately resulted in us having to suspend services between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia in February. Having crew based in Australia will ensure we avoid disruption should the Australian border close again.
“Air New Zealand has been operating between Australia and Norfolk Island since 2012, and was the only airline operating scheduled services between Norfolk and mainland Australia during 2020.”
Norfolk Island is an offshore Australian territory but has traditionally been serviced by Air New Zealand. Under the new agreement, Air New Zealand will use its A320s to operate up to three flights per week from Brisbane and three flights from Sydney.
It comes after Qantas in March launched services between Australia and Norfolk Island on the exact same day as Air New Zealand restarted its service following a COVID disruption. Qantas utilised its 737s, offering 2,000 seats each week.
“With international borders closed, we know Australians are looking for new holiday experiences and Norfolk Island is a destination that has so much to offer,” said Qantas domestic and international CEO Andrew David previously. “The flights also provide an ongoing service for residents to get to the mainland.”
Customers will depart and arrive from the International Terminal in Sydney and Brisbane, and flight time is two and a half hours from Sydney and two hours from Brisbane.
Air New Zealand’s new Norfolk Island schedule will commence on 30 August and include flights from Brisbane on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and from Sydney on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.