Air New Zealand has promised to offer more repatriation flights from Australia back to New Zealand in line with demand, as the airline’s domestic capacity soars above pre-COVID levels.
The New Zealand flag carrier has announced demand across its domestic network has seen it increase its capacity in that sector to 104 per cent that of pre-pandemic levels.
At the same time, the carrier is pushing to return New Zealanders currently in Australia back home before the trans-Tasman bubble is officially put on pause for two months from 11.59pm on 30 July.
Speaking with local news radio program Morning Report, Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said the airline was “ready, willing and able” to add on additional repatriation flights to bring New Zealanders home from Australia before the deadline.
“Trust us. We have seen plenty of people reach out over the weekend. We’ve got about 7500 people booked to return to New Zealand through to midnight this Friday,” he said.
Current estimates suggest there are about 21,000 New Zealanders still in Australia, and it is unclear just how many will be looking to cross the Tasman before 30 July.
Foran said around 2000 seats are still available on currently scheduled flights, however, the airline will add on additional capacity, should demand require it.
“We’ve put on now four extra flights and had put on some planes that have got some more seats on as well so at this stage things are looking very much in control and … we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that friends and whānau get back home,” he said.
Kiwis returning home to New Zealand from states other than NSW and Victoria can return without any form of quarantine until 11:59pm on Friday, 30 July (seven days after the national suspension).
Those returning from Victoria will be required to travel directly to their home, and follow all currency lockdown orders imposed in Victoria. They must continue to isolate for three days, take a COVID test, and isolate until they get a negative result.
Meanwhile, Kiwis attempting to get home from NSW will need to purchase a seat on one of the dedicated repatriation flights, and complete two weeks of hotel quarantine.
From Saturday, 31 July Australia will be treated like any other nation that New Zealand has closed its borders to, meaning all returnees will have to undertake two weeks in hotel quarantine. Seats on flights will be dependent on the number of rooms in the country’s managed isolation facilities.
Foran told the news radio show that the airline will put 300,000 seats on domestic flights on sale for under NZ$100, as the carrier gears up to see trans-Tasman demand plummet.
The airline announced separately it had also added 250,000 additional seats on domestic flights to key tourism regions between August and October.
“Demand is going to fall away pretty quickly across the Tasman both ways. So we’ll make the adjustments there and … we’re putting on some extra activity domestically,” he said.
Air New Zealand has today put more than 300,000 seats across its domestic network on sale for under $100 between September and November, until Thursday.
While the airline has generally increase its domestic capacity across its network, Queenstown will see an increase of over 45,000 seats, while Nelson will see 16,000 more, and Napier 17,000 additional seats.
“It’s heartwarming to see Kiwis are getting out and about supporting our regions. We live in such a beautiful part of the world, so it’s not surprising that our customers are making the most of it,” Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said.