Air New Zealand has added an additional 31 new ‘red’ flights from Australia to New Zealand in December, in anticipation that the trans-Tasman bubble remains paused until after Christmas.
The New Zealand flag carrier has been offering ‘green’ flights from Australia to New Zealand in December, with the pause on quarantine-free travel from Australia currently expected to end on 19 November.
However, the New Zealand government has released another 3,800 spots in its managed isolation quarantine (MIQ) facilities through to the end of this year, and has not yet confirmed that the trans-Tasman bubble will resume in December.
As such, Air New Zealand will continue to offer both ‘red’ and ‘green’ flights from Australia to New Zealand throughout December.
The airline said that ‘green’ flights will be cancelled should the quarantine-free travel pause be extended through December.
Customers currently booked on a ‘green’ flight who wish to transfer their booking to a ‘red’ flight are recommended to cancel their booking, and re-book on a ‘red’ service, after securing their MIQ room.
Customers have 48 hours from securing their MIQ spot to book their flight home.
Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said Air New Zealand will continue to operate flights to bring New Zealanders home for the holidays.
“We understand this continues to be a very distressing time for people trying to get home. We’re committed to doing everything we can to get customers back to where they need to be as safely and quickly as possible.
“There are plenty of seats available so we are confident that if customers secure an MIQ space they will be able to book onto one of our red flights.
“As we head toward Christmas and summer holidays we are looking forward to reconnecting customers with their loved ones in Aotearoa.”
Last week, the New Zealand government announced that it would extend the travel ban between Australia and New Zealand for a further eight weeks, to 19 November.
Even so, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said it would be “extremely unlikely” that New Zealand would re-open its border to Australia in November, due to its ongoing Delta outbreak in Sydney and Melbourne.
Robertson said the country would keep its eyes on the vaccination rates across Australia and within the states over the next eight weeks.
Last month, Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said while the trans-Tasman bubble may return, it will likely look a little different to before, given the Delta outbreak.
“I do think that we [will] open up to Australia but in all likelihood, we may end up operating to Australia like we do with many countries when we feel travel is safe,” he said.
Currently, the prerequisites for entering New Zealand from international countries include providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test, and once arrived, spending 14 days in managed isolation.
However, when the trans-Tasman bubble eventually does reopen, he said he imagines “you’re probably going to have to be vaccinated”.
“You’re probably going to have to do a pre-departure test. You’re probably going to have to do a test on the way home and you’re probably going to have to do a test when you arrive back in the country,” Foran said.